Atalanta midfielder Willy Braciano Ta Bi has died at the age of 21, the Italian club has confirmed.
Ta Bi passed away on Tuesday morning after battling liver cancer over the last year.
His former teammate Amad paid tribute after Atalanta released a statement confirming the tragic news.
“President Antonio Percassi and the whole Atalanta family are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Willy Braciano Ta Bi,” reads the statement.
“A cruel fate prematurely interrupted a dream that had begun with the Nerazzurri shirt in January 2019.
“It took him a few months to play a leading role in the Primavera and help bring the Scudetto back to Bergamo, but, above all, to leave a great memory of himself.”
Ta Bi joined Atalanta from ASEC Mimosa – the most successful club in his native Ivory Coast – in 2019 and helped the youth team achieve Primavera 1 glory that year.
The promising defensive midfielder played alongside his fellow Ivorian Amad in the successful academy side.
And the 18-year-old, who completed a move to Manchester United in January, paid tribute to Ta Bi following the sad news of his passing.
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Amad wrote on his Instagram story: “Rest in peace, Willy Braciano Ta Bi. Forever in our hearts.” He also posted a picture of them embracing and wrote: “Now sleep in peace, friend.”
Ta Bi captained the Ivory Coast at youth level and represented his country at the Francophone Games in 2017.
He was tipped for a great future, with local outlet Koaci claiming he was the “great hope of Ivorian football”.
His last game for Atalanta came in June 2019, when he helped the Bergamo-based club beat Inter Milan in the Primavera 1 final, having picked up three goals and one assist in the competition.
Ta Bi also travelled to the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup with the Ivory Coast aged just 13, though he did not make an appearance.
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