Moldovan soccer player Violeta Mitul has died aged 26 in a “tragic accident,” European soccer’s governing body UEFA announced on Friday.
“The 26-year-old defender was involved in a tragic accident while on a mountain hike with club-mates,” UEFA said in a statement. She died on September 4, her Icelandic club Einherji told CNN in a statement.
“Police received a report between 3 and 4 a.m. about an accident in the Vopnafjordur harbor,” said a statement from Icelandic police on September 4. “A woman in her twenties had fallen off a cliff and landed on the shore. She was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation is ongoing.”
The case remains open but is likely to soon reach a conclusion after data collection, Icelandic police told CNN on Tuesday, September 12.
During her career, the defender became one of Moldova’s leading players, UEFA said, winning 40 caps for her country and playing soccer for clubs across Europe.
She was “kind-hearted, hard-working and always with a smile on her face,” her club told CNN, adding that “she was a trusting teammate and an exceptional football player.”
“The community of Vopnafjörður is devastated by this tragedy,” the club said. “Her passing is a great shock to us all and the hole she leaves behind is big.”
Mitul joined Einherji earlier this year but had previously played for clubs in Spain, Italy, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Earlier in her career, she also won the Moldovan and Romanian Cups while playing for Alga Tiraspol and Vasas Femina respectively.
Moldova did not qualify for this year’s Women’s World Cup but Mitul played in all 10 of her country’s qualifying matches.
“With deep sadness and sorrow in our hearts, the Moldovan Football Federation extends its sincere condolences and profound regret for the passing of the National women’s football team player, one of the finest ones, Violeta Mițul,” said the country’s soccer federation in a statement sent to CNN.
“Her loss is a profound sorrow for the football community in the Republic of Moldova.”
This story has been updated to include statements from Icelandic police on Violeta Mitul’s death and also from the Moldovan Football Federation.