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Jody Lukoki: who was ex Ajax and DR Congo footballer dead at 29 - life and career, cause of death and tributes

The international footballer Jody Lukoki has died at the age of just 29.

The DR Congo international footballer Jody Lukoki has died at the age of just 29.

He was most recently playing for the Dutch side FC Twente and they have released a statment on their club website which reads: “The club is shocked and deeply moved by this tragic event.

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“FC Twente sympathises with his loved ones and wishes them a lot of strength in processing this great loss.”

The Congolese player had previously spent time with PEC Zwolle, the Bulgarian club Ludogorest and the Turkish club Yeni Malatyaspor.

PEC Zwolle joined FC Twente in stating their ‘dismay and sadness’ at learning of Lukoki’s passing. Lukoki scored Zwolle’s first ever goal in a European competition.

Jody Lukoki’s cause of death and tributes

The cause of Jody Lukoki death is currently unknown.

Tributes from former clubs have come flooding in and, along with the statements made by Zwolle and Twente, his Turkish side said: “We learned with sadness the news that Jody Lukoki, who sweated our club’s jersey in the 2020-21 Super League season, passed away.

“Our condolences to his family and community.”

Jody Lukoki’s club career

Lukoki, nicknamed ‘The Son of the Wind’ began his career playing for Ajax, where he had been at youth level. He was born in Zaire, DR Congo, but his family emmigrated to the Netherlands during the First Congo War.

He made his debut for Ajax’s first team in January 2011 in their 2-0 home win over club rivals Feyenoord and immediately got his home fans on his side by giving the then Feyenoord player Tim de Cler a nutmeg after the ball had ceased being in play.

After 24 league appearances and five goals for Ajax, the winger was sent on loan to SC Cambuur after it became clear he was the then manager Frank de Boer’s third choice winger.

Lukoki for Ludogorets in 2019

After one season Lukoki joined PEC Zwolle on what should have been a three-year deal and joined the side that had recently beaten his former side Ajax in the KNVB Cup final.

During Zwolle’s 2014-15 UEFA Europa League play-off match against Sparta Prague, Lukoki scored his side’s first-ever goal in a continental competition.

Lukoki stayed just a year with Zwolle before moving on to the Bulgarian side Ludogorest Razgrad. Between 2015 and 2020, the winger made over 100 league appearances and scored his team’s winning goal in their 2-1 UEFA Europa League group stage match against 1899 Hoffenheim in 2017.

Ludogorest announced that after five years, Lukoki and the Bulgarian side had mutually agreed to part ways and the winger moved on to the Turkish side Yeni Malatyaspor.

After only one season, it was announced Lukoki would return to the Netherlands and he had signed with FC Twente but a knee injury prevented the Congolese international from playing any matches and in February, FC Twente terminated his contract citing “events in his personal life” as the reason for his departure.

Jody Lukoki’s international career

Lukoki made several appearances for the Netherlands at various youth levels but switched his allegiance to the country of his birth in 2015. He continued to hold dual citizenship but earned his first Congolese call up in March 2015 for a friendly against Iraq.

The last of Lukoki’s three international caps came in 2020 during a friendly against Burkina Faso.