Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder, Enock Mwepu has retired from professional football aged 24, following a heart condition diagnosis.
Mwepu hasn’t played since Brighton’s 5-2 Premier League victory at home to Leicester on 4 September due to illness, which has now been confirmed to be a hereditary heart condition.
The undisclosed heart condition can worsen over time which would of put Mwepu ‘at an extremely high risk of suffering a potentially fatal cardiac event,’ in the event that he continued to play professional football at a competitve level.
Mwepu took to Twitter upon official announcement of his retirement to tweet the following statement.
— Enock Mwepu (@EnockMwepu45) October 10, 2022
Brighton’s Head Coach, Roberto de Zerbi who took charge a fortnight after Mwepu played his final match for the club, issued the following statement expressing his disappointment at the news as he said: “I am so sorry for Enock.”
De Zerbi also added that he had hoped to get the chance to work with Mwepu, after having singled the Zambia international during his squad assessment as a player that he was “so excited and looking forward to working with.”
Brighton Chairman, Tony Bloom added that everyone at the club “are all absolutely devastated” to see Mewpu’s “promising career cut short at such a young age”, amidst a “traumatic few weeks” for Mwepu and his family.
Bloom also iterated that the club will provide Mwepu with full support in his recovery and beyond, as he added: “As a club we will give him all the love, help and support we possibly can to make a full recovery, and then as he decides on the next steps in his life.”
De Zerbi echoed Bloom’s comment on support as he also stated that Brighton “will do everything we can to help him.”
Brighton’s Head of Medicine and Performance, Adam Brett provided further details on how Mwepu’s heart condition came to light.
Explaining how Mwepu’s heart condition came to light, Brett said: “Enock was taken ill while on a flight to join up with Zambia during the international break and after a period in hospital in Mali he returned to Brighton to undergo further cardiac tests and ongoing care.
“These tests have concluded that his illness is due to a hereditary cardiac condition, which manifests later in life and was not previously evident on regular cardiac screening.”
Brett further expanded to explain the impact of the hereditary heart condition as he iterated that Mwepu’s illness “can be exacerbated by playing sport”, which meant that Mwepu had to retire with immediate effect for “his own safety” and health.
Allaying any risk of fan speculation over second medical opinions, Brett also confirmed that “thorough” advanced cardiac investigations were undertaken alongside discussions between the club’s medical team and “clinical experts” in recent weeks to get the right opinions for Mwepu.
Brett also iterated that the club’s medical team will continue to support Mwepu in managing his condition with “appropriate treatment” to enable him to “live a long and healthy life.”
Acknowleding the difficulty of Mwepu’s decision, Brett concluded: “It is a terrible blow for Enock, but he has to put his health and his family first and this is the right choice, however difficult it is to quit the game he loves.”
Mwepu joined Brighton in July 2021 and has gone on to score three goals in 27 appearances for the Seagulls, having previously played for Red Bull Salzburg between 2017-21 during which he was loaned out to FC Liefering in 2017-18 season.
Across his club and international career, Mwepu has scored 33 goals in 192 appearances across all competitions.