SIERRA LEONE keeper Alhaji Dauda Conteh has died of a short illness in a Freetown hospital aged 25.
Conteh played for Guinean side Ashanti Golden Boys de Siguiri and was on the verge of an international debut after being called up for his country's squad.
He had been selected for Sierra Leone's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match against Kenya last month but was forced to withdraw the night before the match after taking ill.
Leone Stars coach John Keister told BBC Sport: "Conteh was not impressive in the last day of training because something was wrong with him.
"I even told one of my assistants about it. This forced me to drop him from the squad.
"We'll surely miss him. I always liked him because he was humble and always good to be around the Leone Stars team."
Conteh, who is yet to be buried, was one of few Sierra Leoneon players to have graduated with a degree, having studied at Fourah Bay college at the University of Sierra Leone.
Keister added: "He was a clever boy and had a goalkeeper's height and good goalkeeping abilities."
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Tributes have poured in from some of Sierra Leone's top footballers.
Former Norwich and Middlesbrough striker Kei Kamara said: "It's very sad to wake up and hear news like this.
"Alhaji was such a great person; being a college graduate and a footballer is a hard thing to do and he was able to accomplish that. My prayers to his family."
Leone Stars captain Umaru Bangura said: "We've lost a good goalkeeper. We were with him in camp last month when preparing for our match against Kenya. We'll miss him. Rest in peace Conteh."
Sierra Leone ace Alfred Sankoh, who plays in Turkey, said: "Rest in peace brother. God knows best but this is so scary after a month when I was with you in the Leone Stars camp."
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