Anton Walkes, a Charlotte FC soccer player, died at the age of 25 after being involved in a boat collision in Miami. Walkes was found unresponsive near Miami Marine Stadium on Wednesday and given CPR, but he died in the early hours of Thursday morning.
“We are grieved by the passing of Anton Walkes, a genuinely amazing parent, caring guy, and exceptional human being,” Charlotte’s sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a statement. “Anton epitomized what it meant to be a part of Charlotte Football Club and our entire community is hurting over this tragedy.
“The effect he had in the locker room and around Charlotte will never be forgotten. We are thinking about his wonderful family during this difficult time and will help them in every way we can.”
“There are no words to explain the sadness of everyone in Major League Soccer today after learning of the untimely demise of Anton Walkes of Charlotte FC,” Major League Soccer said in a statement.
“Anton was a brilliant and devoted player who was appreciated by his teammates and fans. Our hearts go out to his partner, family, friends, and the whole Charlotte FC family.
“MLS is working with Charlotte FC to provide the services and assistance that players and family members may require at this difficult time.” Walkes, who was born in London, began his career at Tottenham Hotspur before moving on to play 66 appearances for Portsmouth.
Tottenham loaned him to Atlanta United in 2017, giving him his first experience of American soccer. Walkes returned to Atlanta in 2020, where he spent two seasons before being drafted by Charlotte in the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft.
“We are profoundly saddened to hear of the demise of former player, Anton Walkes,” said Tottenham in a statement on Thursday. The sympathies of everyone at the Club are with his family and friends at this extremely sad moment”.
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“Mr. Walkes was transported to a local hospital, where he eventually died from his injuries,” the FWC said in a statement obtained by CNN. “During this terrible moment, our thoughts are with Mr. Walkes’ family, friends, and fans.” The FWC also stated that an inquiry into the accident is ongoing.
Following his death, Charlotte FC owner David Tepper issued a statement of his own, explaining that both he and the team are “devastated” by Anton Walkes’ terrible loss.
“A fantastic son, father, partner, and teammate whose happy attitude to life inspired everyone he encountered,” Tepper said of the late athlete. “Anton made those around him better people in all aspects of life,” he said, “and represented Charlotte FC to the greatest standard both on and off the field.”
The Englishman began his career at Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. He made his debut in the English Football League (EFL) cup three years later. Walkes continued with Tottenham Hotspur until 2018 when he was loaned to Major League Soccer side Atlanta United for a year.
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In 2018, he joined EFL League One team Portsmouth on loan. The midfielder later signed a two-year contract with the club before returning to the MLS in January 2020. Charlotte FC picked Walkes in the MLS Expansion Draft in December 2021.
He made his debut for the squad during its first season in 2022, appearing in 23 games with 21 starts. “There are no words to express how deeply everyone in Major League Soccer mourns the untimely death of Anton Walkes of Charlotte FC today,” Major League Soccer stated in a statement on Thursday.
“Anton was a talented and devoted player who was well-liked by both his teammates and the fans.” Tottenham Hotspur, his first professional club, also lamented his death.
The players announced on social media that they will wear black armbands “as a gesture of respect” during their match later that day versus Manchester City.
What did Anton Walkes have to say about playing soccer in America?
Walkes was born in the London Borough of Lewisham and grew up playing soccer in the UK, where the sport is commonly referred to as football. While he was always a standout player, he took the decision to come to the United States to chase his aspirations on a larger platform, which he did not regret.
“It was something entirely new, I had to leave my family, my comfort zone, and it was such a significant adjustment,” he said in a Mirror interview in 2020. “I realized I couldn’t continue to play reserve or under-23 football.
Mauricio Pochettino approached me in the changing room one day and asked how I felt about the transfer. “Pochettino stated he knew the coaching staff and promised me extra minutes; after chatting with my family, I realized it was something I had to do.
“I’d always advocate coming here overslipping down the English leagues,” Walkes remarked.