Charlotte FC have announced English defender Anton Walkes has died at the age of 25.
Walkes, who has a young daughter called Ayla with his girlfriend Alexis, received CPR from Miami Fire Rescue Wednesday before being transported to hospital, but died early Thursday.
‘We are heartbroken from the loss of Anton Walkes, a truly incredible father, loving person, and outstanding human being,’ Charlotte’s sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a statement.
English footballer Anton Walkes (left) has died aged 25, leaving behind girlfriend Alexis (middle) and their daughter Ayla (right)
Walkes, who plays for Charlotte FC, was involved in a boat crash in Miami Wednesday
Walkes, an English defender who started at Tottenham Hotspur, died early Thursday
‘Anton embodied what it means to be a part of Charlotte Football Club and our entire community is grieving over this tragedy.
‘The impact he made in the locker room and throughout Charlotte will never be forgotten. We are thinking of his lovely family during this time and he will support them fully in every way imaginable.’
A statement to DailyMail.com from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission detailed the sequence of events following the crash.
‘On January 18, 2023, at approximately 3:00pm, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers responded to a two-vessel accident near the Miami Marine Stadium basin.
Walkes was discovered unconscious following a crash of two boats near Miami Marine Stadium
Walkes (left) was born in Lewisham, London, and emerged through Tottenham’s academy
‘The operator of one of the vessels, Anton C. Walkes of Charlotte, North Carolina was found unconscious and transported to shore by Miami Fire Rescue where he received CPR.
‘Mr. Walkes was taken to an area hospital where he later died from his injuries. Our thoughts are with the family, friends and fans of Mr. Walkes during this difficult time.
‘This is an active investigation and there is no further information available at this time.’
In their own statement, Major League Soccer expressed their pain at the ‘tragic’ news of Walkes’ death early Thursday, following the boating accident in South Florida.
‘There are no words to describe the sorrow of everyone in Major League Soccer today after learning of the tragic passing of Anton Walkes of Charlotte FC,’ the statement read.
He excelled as a youngster at Tottenham but found first team opportunities hard to come by
He had a loan spell and then a permanent stay with Portsmouth in lower leagues in England
‘Anton was a talented and dedicated player who was loved by his teammates and fans. We extend our deepest condolences to his partner, family, friends and the entire Charlotte FC family.
‘MLS is coordinating with Charlotte FC to provide players and family members with the resources and support they may need during this tragic time.’
Less than 24 hours ago Walkes shared a photo of him training on his Instagram story. Charlotte arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January 9 for a 12-day training camp.
Walkes turned professional in 2016 and began his career being nurtured through Tottenham Hotspur’s academy in England.
Tottenham and Portsmouth, two of his former teams, expressed their condolence on Thursday
‘We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player, Anton Walkes,’ Tottenham wrote in tribute.
‘The thoughts of everyone at the Club are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.’
From there he had loan spells with Atlanta United and Portsmouth, before going on to have permanent spells at both clubs.
On December 14, 2021, Walkes was picked up by Charlotte ahead of their inaugural season as part of the expansion draft. Last season, Walkes started 21 games for Charlotte.
They finished six points shy of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
He made a loan, and later permanent, switch to Atlanta United and impressed in MLS
At Atlanta he urged other young English players to be brave and make a move to the States
Charlotte FC owner David Tepper said: ‘Everyone at Tepper Sports & Entertainment is devastated by the tragic passing of Anton Walkes. He was a tremendous son, father, partner and teammate whose joyous approach to life touched everyone he met.
‘Anton made those around him better people in all areas of life and represented Charlotte FC to the highest standard both on and off the pitch.
‘He will be greatly missed by many and our thoughts and prayers are with Anton’s family during this heartbreaking time.
‘The club offers its full support to all those impacted during this period of mourning.’
Charlotte are scheduled to play a pre-season match against St Louis City on Saturday, before their season-opening match against New England Revolution on February 25.
ANTON WALKES FACTFILE
Born: February 8, 1997
Place of birth: Lewisham, London
2016-18 – Tottenham Hotspur
2017 – Atlanta United (LOAN)
2018 Portsmouth (LOAN)
2018-20 – Portsmouth
2020-21 – Atlanta United
2022 -Charlotte F.C
Walkes’ teammate Jaylin Lindsey said that news of Walkes’ death has left him ‘heartbroken’.
‘Heartbroken. Fly high my brother, you’re the best teammate I could’ve asked for. Love you man,’ Lindsey tweeted.
Brandt Bronico, another teammate, wrote: ‘Absolutely heartbroken. Thanks for being such a great teammate, friend, leader, and person. Rest easy brother.’
In their own statement, Atlanta United, where Walkes started 64 out of 70 games there across his two spells, said: ‘We are heartbroken to learn of the tragic passing of Anton Walkes.
An inaugural member of Atlanta United, Anton was the epitome of a great teammate with a personality that lit up every room he entered.
‘He will be deeply missed by all of those who knew him.
‘On behalf of everyone at Atlanta United, we send our deepest condolences to Anton’s family, friends and Charlotte FC.’
Walkes, who was first spotted by Tottenham playing for non-league team Dulwich Hamlet in London, has been a big advocate of young players swapping English football for MLS.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror in 2020, Walkes urged young players to ‘be brave’ and head for America.
‘Stepping away was always hard. But you have to realize there’s opportunities elsewhere, be brave and take it full steam ahead,’ he said.
‘I met my girlfriend while I was there, we’ve got a little one and that was a plus side and I’ve got my own little family now to keep me focused and that’s always important.’
He added: ‘I think you’ll only see MLS get better and better. A lot of people’s opinions have changed of late. The rate the league is going at, you’ll only see it get better.’
BOATING ACCIDENTS IN FLORIDA
Several athletes have been seriously injured in Florida boating accidents in the past.
In 1993, Cleveland Indians pitcher Steve Olin and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tim Crews were both killed in a boating accident on Little Lake Nellie in Clermont, Florida. The collision also injured another pitcher, Cleveland’s Bob Ojeda.
In 2009, the US Coast Guard reported a missing boat off the Gulf Coast, near Clearwater. The vessel was carrying Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, Detroit Lions defensive end Corey Smith, as well as former University of South Florida football players, Nick Schuyler and Will Bleakley.
The boat was later found capsized the following day with Schuyler clinging to the hull. The other three passengers all died.
In 2016 Marlins pitcher José Fernández died with two other men in a crash near Miami Beach.