FC Bruges' Belgian international Francois Sterchele was killed in a car accident on Wednesday night, Belgian media report Thursday.
The 26-year-old was travelling alone between Antwerp and Knokke in the north of the country when his Porsche left the road and smashed into a tree.
The car was travelling at “an unsuitable speed” at the time of the crash, a judicial expert told Belga news agency.
Sterchele was the Belgian league's top scorer last season when he played for Antwerp club Germinal Beerschot, before joining Bruges.
On the six goal mark this term the young striker had made six international appearances.
Marc Brys, his former coach at Germinal Beerschot, gave his reaction to the tragedy, saying: “Unfortuately this is an accident that underlines the fact that Francois lived at 100 miles an hour on and off the pitch.
“Francois was the most talented player I've ever worked with. He was cunning, fast and intelligent.”
FC Bruges president Michel D'Hooghe said he was “devastated” at the news of the death of Sterchele who was due to turn out for the club on Sunday for the last day of the season.
That game, against Westerloo, is going ahead as scheduled “but in silence, without music and without festivities” announced the club which has received a telegram of condolence from UEFA, European football's governing body.
With his teammates in shock Thursday's training at FC Bruges was cancelled.
“Francois was one of those players with enormous talent and with plenty of potential. This season he was one of the maintstays of the club and one of the fans' favorite players,” commented former Belgian Prime Minister and ardent Bruges fan Jean-Luc Dehaene.
A shocked Bruges captain Sven Vermant described Sterchele as “a friend to everyone here”.
“And he's going to remain like that, as we'll never forget him.”
The funeral is scheduled to take place on Tuesday at Alleur, near Liege.
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