Italian club, Atalanta, and the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) are mourning the demise of 21-year-old midfielder, Willy Braciano Ta Bi, who died after a long battle against liver cancer.
Willy Ta Bi, who joined Atalanta from Ivory Coast’s Asec Mimosa in 2019 and immediately helped the team win the Italian youth title, the Primavera, died in his homeland on Tuesday.
In a statement on their website, Atalanta said: “President Antonio Precassi and the whole Atalanta family are deeply saddened by the untimely death of Willy Braciano Ta Bi.
“A cruel destiny interrupted a dream that began with the Nerazzurri shirt in January 2019 too soon.
“He only needed a few months to carve out a leading role in the Primavera and help bring the Scudetto back to Bergamo, but above all to leave a great memory.”
Former Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, also paid tribute to Ta Bi on social media.
“Ivory Coast, the football world are mourning you, you fought against this damn disease as you fought on the pitches like a real boss, a leader!!!!,” he wrote.
Juventus midfielder Dejan Kulusevski, who was also part of that youth team at Atalanta, also paid tribute to his ex-teammate on Instagram: “Rest in peace, brother”.
18-year-old Manchester United’s new Ivory Coast-born winger, Amad Diallo, who joined the Old Trafford side from Atalanta, posted a picture of them embracing on Instagram and wrote: “Now sleep in peace, friend.”
Ta Bi captained the Ivory Coast at youth level and represented his country at the Francophone Games in 2017, with Drogba posting a video of a passionate team talk given by the youngster.