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Wolfsburg's Malanda dies in car crash

January 10, 2015

Police confirmed on Saturday evening that Belgian midfielder Junior Malanda had died in a car accident. The Wolfsburg player was only 20 years old. Investigations are continuing into the precise nature of the crash.

Junior Malanda VFL Wolfsburg SW 26.07.2014
Image: Imago/Horstmüller

In a response to a query by Germany's Bild newspaper, police in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia said that Malanda had been killed shortly after 3:30 pm local time when the SUV in which he was riding left the road.

The vehicle had been traveling on the highway toward Hannover in a storm with heavy rain and winds of up to 100 kilometers an hour (about 60 miles per hour).

Police said the vehicle hit the guardrail, flew through the air and collided with a tree. Two other passengers were seriously injured and taken to hospital. Police said the vehicle had been travelling at excessive speeds for the weather conditions at the time of the accident.

"We are distraught and can simply not find the words to express ourbewilderment," said Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs."We all loved him dearly. He was the positive spirit within the teamand a young man full of the joys of life."

Malanda's teammate Kevin de Bruyne posted a photo of the two of them on Twitter with the words: "So strange to hear your friend in the morning and then hear this news. Lost a great friend way too early. RIP my friend."

Trauer um Fußballspieler Malanda
The scene of the accident, on the A2 towards HanoverImage: picture-alliance/dpa

A number of Bundesliga clubs sent messages of condolence after the news broke. Borussia Dortmund tweeted: "Words fail us. We are shocked, sad and with you Wolfsburg. #RIPMalanda." Bayern Munich held a minute's silence on Sunday morning in their training camp in Doha, Qatar.

The Wolfsburg squad had been planning to head to their winter training camp in South Africa on Saturday evening. That departure was subsequently cancelled. Allofs confirmed on Sunday that the club will still travel to Africa's most southernly country for their training camp.

"It was not an easy decision but we think that it is the right one," said Allofs. "The team were totally devastated when they learnt the news."

Malanda arrived at Wolfsburg from Belgian side Zulte Waregem at the start of this year. He scored two goals in 17 matches for the German team.

jc/jh (dpa, afp)