The promising career of Chris Naumoff has come to an abrupt end with the Australia youth international announcing his immediate retirement from football, due to a genetic heart condition.
A fortnight ago, the skilful 21 year-old attacker was on cloud nine after signing a three-year deal and being unveiled by Spanish Segunda Division outfit Numancia at an official press conference.
However, a mandatory medical by Numancia found an abnormality in Naumoff's heart with a club statement confirming that the 'tough decision' was made not to proceed with the signing.
"After the first medical examination required other surveys and explorations that have finally led the club to take this tough decision," a club statement said.
In a statement released to The World Game, Naumoff confirmed his decision to end his playing days and revealed the nature of his condition.
To my family, friends and fans I would like to take this opportunity to explain the current situation regarding my professional football career. As some of you may be aware I was fortunate enough to have signed a 3 year deal with C.D. Numancia in Spain, for me a dream come true.
During the mandatory medical assessment under taken by C.D. Numancia it was found that there was an abnormality of my heart. Apart from this finding there is no issue with my health and fitness. After two follow up examinations from professional football related cardiologists in Madrid, and a final consultation with Professor Christopher Semsarian in Sydney the condition was confirmed as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a genetic condition which involves thickening of the interior heart wall and introduces a risk of sudden cardiac arrest, in particular for professional athletes during activity.
How long this condition has affected me is unknown, and how this condition was not discovered during my time as a professional in Australia is a question for another day.
As a result of these findings, in conjunction with the risks that come with the condition, the history of players with this condition, recommendations from the cardiac professionals and the international rules of the game, it is with great sadness that I announce my retirement from professional football.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank first and foremost C.D. Numancia for finding this condition, their hospitality during this period was overwhelming. I would like to thank Sydney FC for providing me the opportunity to start my professional career, also thank you to all my junior clubs in which I spent time with prior to my professional career.
In particular I would like to express special thanks to my immediate family and agent Miquel Riera for helping me through this difficult time.
For me I am grateful that this condition was found before any fatality.
I encourage all professional or amateur football clubs and individuals to take out these tests to ensure all players can play the game risk free of potential fatality. The two simple but effective tests to diagnose this condition are an Electrocardiogram (ECG) and a Echocardiogram (Echo).
I intend to stay involved with the game of football in one way or another, and hope my example can change the lives of athletes and set a precedent to better testing and awareness for the future and the wellbeing of all athletes.
Christopher KIKI Naumoff
Naumoff played 55 times for Sydney FC in the A-League, FFA Cup and AFC Champions League since his first-team debut in 2013 and represented Australia at U-20 and U-23 level.
The Professional Footballers Association have offered Naumoff their full support as he begins the transition into his life post professional football.
“Chris is one of Australia’s brightest talents and it is devastating to hear that his career has been cut short,” PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said.
“On and off the pitch he is hugely respected and admired by his peers and all in the Australian football community.
“This case highlights the precarious nature of professional sport and its inherent risks.
“Thankfully, the medical condition has been identified and the PFA will continue to work with Chris and his family to ensure he receives the best possible medical advice and support.”