Thai boy who was rescued from caves dies in UK chasing football dream

Death of Duangphet Phromthep, 17, not being treated as suspicious

Duangphet Phromthep with family members after he and his teammates were rescued from caves in 2018. AP
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A young footballer who was one of the team of boys trapped and rescued from a cave in Thailand in 2018 has died in the UK, his school has confirmed.

Duangphet Phromthep, 17, known as Dom, died on Tuesday in hospital, Brooke House College football academy said on Wednesday.

He had been enrolled on a three-year scholarship at the college in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, with the help of a charity set up by Thai football legend and former national team coach Kiatisuk ‘Zico’ Senamuang.

“Brooke House College is devastated to confirm the passing of our student, Duangphet Phromthep, known as Dom, yesterday in hospital,” college principal Ian Smith said.

“This event has left our college community deeply saddened and shaken.

“We unite in grief with all of Dom’s family, friends, former teammates and those involved in all parts of his life, as well as everyone affected in any way by this loss in Thailand and throughout the college’s global family.

“The college is liaising with statutory authorities and the Royal Thai Embassy in London, and dedicating all resources to assist our student body, as young people process Dom’s passing.

“Beyond that, we are unable to comment further at this time and would ask for privacy and compassion as we continue to support the students in our care at this time, drawing on the kindness and assistance of the Market Harborough community.”

The cause of death has yet to be confirmed but Leicestershire Police indicated the death was not being treated as suspicious.

Kiatisuk said a teacher had found the boy unconscious in his room at the school.

“A hospital treated him since Sunday and informed the Thai embassy yesterday that his heartbeat was slow and he had no response,” he said.

“His voice is still in my ears. He had his dreams. He wanted to be a professional footballer, he wanted to be a national footballer.”

Duangphet was awarded the football scholarship to study at Brooke House College last year, and for the Zico Foundation it was the first time it had sent a student overseas.

“Today my dream came true,” the boy wrote on Instagram in August. “I will focus and do my best.”

His mother Thanaporn Duangthep said: “We want to bring his body home, our family does not have much [money] … he is a pillar of the family.”

She said she hoped a Buddhist monk in England could conduct religious rites for her son.

The story of the Wild Boars football team being trapped in and rescued from a cave has been retold in several films, including last year's Ron Howard feature Thirteen Lives and 2021 documentary The Rescue.

Updated: February 15, 2023, 4:54 PM