Honduran footballer Walter Julián Martínez, who played for Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese Super League, died of a heart attack in New York on August 11 at the age of 37. Guoan fans assembled at the Workers Stadium in Beijing and expressed their condolences with scarves and flowers on August 13, 2019. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Fans of Beijing Sinobo Guoan mourned the death of Honduras international Walter Martinez on Tuesday, following the Honduras international’s sudden death at 37 due to a heart attack on Sunday.

At Beijing’s iconic Workers’ Stadium on Tuesday morning, Guoan followers walked to the gate of their home stadium with flowers and scarves in their hands, many of them crying out loud. 

Scarves and kits with Martinez’s number on them were nearly sold out at the official Guoan store on Tuesday. But most of the fans who bought the uniforms put them at the front of a statue at the gate of the stadium. 

Honduran footballer Walter Julián Martínez, who played for Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese Super League, died of a heart attack in New York on August 11 at the age of 37. Guoan fans assembled at the Workers Stadium in Beijing and expressed their condolences with scarves and flowers on August 13, 2019. Photo: Li Hao/GT

 

Honduran footballer Walter Julián Martínez, who played for Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese Super League, died of a heart attack in New York on August 11 at the age of 37. Guoan fans assembled at the Workers Stadium in Beijing and expressed their condolences with scarves and flowers on August 13, 2019. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The news of Martinez’s death was disclosed on Monday through a Twitter-like Sina Weibo post from FIFA’s official account. Guoan later confirmed the news. 

“Our former player Walter Martinez passed away after a heart attack early on Sunday in New York. The club sends its deepest condolences to Martinez’s family. May there be football with you in heaven and no pain at all. Beijing will always miss you!” the club said on Weibo on Monday.

The club is trying to find a proper way to mourn Martinez, and it is preparing a fund-raising event and plans to donate all the money to Martinez’s family, a journalist who follows Guoan said Tuesday. 

The former Honduras international became one of Guoan’s icons following impressive performances in his debut season for Guoan in 2007. 

Although he won no trophies with Guoan, Martinez won fans’ hearts through his good form against rivals and in big matches. His easy-going nature and kindness were also widely applauded by the fans. 

He was reported to have donated $3,000 for victims of the disastrous Wenchuan Earthquake on May 12, 2008. 

Martinez left the club at the end of 2008 season and returned to Guoan in the summer of 2010. 

In his total of three and a half seasons with Guoan, Martinez scored 30 goals, 28 of which were in the Chinese Super League (CSL) and two in the Asian Champions League, putting him 10th in the rankings for the club’s all-time top scorers.

Beijing’s fans also felt his deep love after a group stage match during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as Martinez shouted out to Chinese media in Chinese, “Come on Beijing Guoan!”

Some of Martinez’s former teammates at Guoan expressed their condolences.

“I will always miss you, my happy boy,” China international midfielder Huang Bowen who played for Guoan from 2004 to 2010 said through an Instagram post on Monday.  

“He is not an international star like Messi or Ronaldo, but he is the most diligent player we’ve ever had, who gave all he had to the city,” a fan who wished to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

“Martinez established a profound friendship with Guoan and the fans. He always cared about us even though he left the club. He is totally different from those who come to play in China just for money,” said another fan.