Betis defender Miki Roque passes away

It is a sad day for Spanish football with the news that the young defender, a former Liverpool player, has died after losing his battle with cancer
Betis defender Miki Roque has passed away at the age of 23 following a battle with pelvic cancer.

Spanish media has confirmed the news concerning the former Spain Under-19 international who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after undergoing a routine check-up on a back problem.

He had surgery to remove the tumor in May of that same year after Betis raised funds to pay for the defender's treatment by selling wrist-bands with the player's name written on them.

Roque was on Liverpool's books between 2005 and 2009, making just one official appearance for the Reds' first team, during a 3-2 Champions League victory against Galatasaray in December 2006.

After being released by the English club Roque joined Betis, where he made 14 competitive appearances in 2010-11 before being forced to halt his career after the tumor was discovered.

Real Madrid stopper and Spain international Sergio Ramos was one of the first to react to the news, tweeting: "Life shows once again how unfair it is. I just found out about Miki Roque's death. I have no words. The world of football and those who loved you will never forget you."

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas also paid his respects on Twitter, saying: "What a sad news. A great person and fighter has left us. I have no words... Rest in peace Miki Roque."

Fabregas' teammate Victor Valdes tweeted: "All the strength in the world to Miki Roque's family and friends... RIP."

Betis coach Pepe Mel also did not hide his shock to learn about the death of a player he worked with for over a year, tweeting: "Miki, you had the values that I wanted for our Betis: excitement and desire to achieve thing.

"Goodbye Miki, like every Sunday this season my first memory will be of you."