By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
A promising 19-year old football goalkeeper died in Santo Domingo 10 days after attempting suicide on Virgin Gorda by dousing in gas, then lighting himself on fire.
Collaged images of Diego Jimenez appeared on the BVI Football Association’s social media page on April 1 with the caption, ‘Diego Jimenez…with great sadness’ after the teenager succumbed to self-inflicted injuries on March 31. Reports are that Jimenez who had domestic issues, allegedly doused himself in gas in a room then lit himself afire on March 21. He suffered burns on 90% of is body. He was airlifted to Santo Domingo that same day.
Jimenez, a product of the BVIFA’s afterschool program, represented Bregado Flax Educational Center at the primary and secondary levels and was a member of the Virgin Gorda United Football team.
“Diego was a young promising goalkeeper, a young guy interested in sports. He had a lot of life, energy and was one of the best youth goalkeepers we’ve ever had playing in the BVI Football Association program,” noted BVIFA member on Virgin Gorda, Avonel “Clarky” Morton. ”He started playing from around the age of 14 when he came from Santo Domingo. He played for Virgin Gorda North in the youth program and won the best goalkeeper award in 2016. All in all, he was very respectful, very humble and a good person to have in our program and he learned quickly. We’re saddened that he passed away at this time. The most we can do is pray for him and his family.”
Morton said Jimenez’s loss is also a big loss for the BVIFA as goalkeepers are hard to come by. The same Saturday he was burnt, he was to be practicing with the technical goalkeeper coach.
“But unfortunately, he got burnt and couldn’t make it to practice,” Morton said.
Most of the players Jimenez played with are saddened Morton said and have been unable to gather because the territory has been on lockdown because of the coronavirus. However, they have been using social media to send messages and images of him.
“They wish he was around to be with them still because they had plans for him and he had plans for them,” Morton said.
Virgin Gorda United Manager Glenn Bascombe said he knew Jimenez from attending Valley Day School as a youngster and described him as a very talented player.
“He was a guy with a daring personality so as a result, he had the potential to be a very great player,” noted Bascombe. “He was willing to learn and wasn’t afraid to try anything to become better.”
Bascombe recalled Virgin Gorda United playing against Old Madrid and Jimenez was goalkeeping in a game that went to a penalty shootout. He saved three of the five Old Madrid attempts to preserve the victory and avoid them being knocked out of the competition.
“Saving three of five goals in a penalty shootout is not an easy thing for a goalkeeper to do,” Bascombe said. “As a result, we were able to make it into the next round of the competition. He had a very bubbly personality. It’s very sad that we had to lose him at a young age.”
Former BVI goalkeeper and M&M Soccer Academy founder and director Morris Mark on Tortola, said he was to begin working with Jimenez. Mark said he first saw Jimenez during a high school game three years ago and noted how naturally gifted and talented he was.
“Goalkeeping is not a position most people really steer to directly and he had that natural talent. He remined me of a player I had years ago, the same enthusiasm, the same will to want to get better,” Mark said. “I saw him goalkeeping during one school game and told him he could be a really good goalkeeper if he gets the right coaching. I gave him a few pointers and he fixed it on the field and that caught my eye as I wondered how he could pick that up so quickly. Besides that, he was a great individual, personality wise, easy to talk to, a good listener and he learned quickly.”