Former Premier League footballer Steve Gohouri has been found dead in a river in Germany. A body found in the River Rhine on New Year’s Eve near Düsseldorf has been confirmed as the former Wigan and Ivory Coast defender.
The 34-year-old, who played defense for Wigan Athletic between 2010 and 2012, was reported missing two weeks ago. Gohouri attended his current fourth division German side TSV Steinbach’s Christmas party on December 12 and was set to travel to see his family in Paris but never arrived home.
Police in Germany had issued an appeal for Gohouri’s whereabouts after the family filed a missing person’s report when he failed to meet his family before Christmas.
Born in Treichville, Ivory Coast, Gohouri moved to France with his family at the age of five and grew up in the suburbs of Paris. He started his professional football career playing in the youth team at CS Bretigny alongside Patrice Evra. He then spent two years at Paris Saint-Germain and made a brief stop in Israel at Bnei Yehuda in the 1999-2000 season before moving to Switzerland to join Yverdon-Sport. He spent the next seven seasons in the Swiss leagues.
In 2007, he signed in the Bundesliga for Brussia Monchengladbach where he scored two goals in 42 games, helping the side to Bundesliga promotion, before signing in the English Premiere League with Wigan Athletic on 12 January 2010. Gohouri was playing this season for German fourth-tier side TSV Steinbach.
He also represented Ivory Coast at the international level, but only played sporadically since first appearing for his country in 2006 against Senegal. The defender, a member of the Ivory Coast 2010 World Cup squad, joined Maccabi Tel Aviv in the summer of 2012, and also had a spell at Skoda Xanthi in Greece before looking to finish his playing career in Germany.
Tributes have been paid to the player online and on social media, including one from his former UK side.
Wigan posted a message of condolence on the club’s Twitter feed, which read: “We are saddened to hear reports of our former defender Steve Gohouri passing away. Our thoughts are with his family.”
Former team mate and Wigan manager Gary Caldwell, expressed his sadness. “I heard the fans singing his name and we heard about the news in the dressing room. For somebody so young to lose their life is very sad, it’s tragic to find out about a former team mate passing away.”
“This is terrible news,” Moenchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl said. “I got to know Steve as a person full of the joys of life and that’s how I’ll remember him. Our thoughts and sympathies are now with his family.”
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure also joined in the tribute to fellow Ivorian footballer. “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Steve Gohouri. Very sad news he is no longer with us”, Toure said.
TSV Steinbach made a statement after police confirmed Gohouri’s death.
“TSV Steinbach football club mourns its player Steve Gohouri. It is this afternoon certain that Steve Gohouri has died at the age of 34 years. This was confirmed by the Dusseldorf Police to TSV Steinbach. All managers, players, coaches and assistants at TSV Steinbach are very concerned about the death of Steve Gohouri. Our thoughts in these difficult hours are with his family.”
Düsseldorf police confirmed that the autopsy revealed no suspicious circumstances surrounding Gohouri’s death.
A statement from police read: “On December 31, the corpse of initially an unknown man was found in the Rhine near Krefeld. In the meantime, the dead could be identified as the 34-year-old who had been reported missing on December 12. An autopsy showed no evidence of violence by third parties.”
[Photo by Karina Hessland/Bongarts/Getty Images]