Medics have been left baffled as to why a 20-year-old footballer and coach died playing the game he loved.
Andrae Stevens Junior collapsed from a heart defect just after making a pass to a team-mate at Goals Wimbledon.
Three teams of paramedics fought to keep him alive at the ground and then scores of them tried to revive him at Kingston Hospital – but he died shortly before 10pm that night, almost two hours after the first 999 call.
The tearful medical staff who battled to keep him alive were just as shocked as the friends and team-mates gathered outside – who could not understand how the fitness fanatic could have died so suddenly, so young.
The autopsy was inconclusive so his heart has been sent to a specialist for examination but the process could take up to a month.
Andrae, a former pupil of Southfields Academy, had been on AFC Wimbledon’s books for two years.
He came home from his second year from Solent University in Southampton – where he was already in the first team – at lockdown, and had started a job coaching football at a primary school in Brixton that day and had no previous health issues.
His mother Kerrie-Ann Braham, 45, who supports troubled children at Hotham Primary School, Charlwood Road, Putney, said: “I was angry at first. It does not feel fair. We have to think it is for the best, though – that God took him and he is now in good hands.
“I always said if anything happened to me, he would look after his sisters as he had done with my youngest, Shaniah, who is six, when she was little.
“My eldest Shannine, 22, is expecting in two weeks and he was so looking forward to taking the baby out in a sling.
“Andrae was goofy and stern and very ambitious and all the girls liked him.
“His friend Casey’s mum called me that evening begging me to go down to Goals. When I arrived there were teams working on him and they said not to touch him.
“He was my best friend and only son. He was so loving, caring and family orientated. His personality just captivated everyone. His dream was to finish University and go into sport managing.
“He wanted to coach a girls’ team because he always said the girls weren’t noticed in football and were underrated.”
An online GoFundMe page to help support his mother and two sisters has already raised more than £12,500.
His best friend Casey Irving was with him when he collapsed.
He said: “We were right next to each other when it happened. He lost the ball and then just collapsed – I thought he was lying down because he was tired.
“When I realised something was wrong I went over and started going ‘AJ are you okay?’ but he didn’t respond.
“It’s such a huge loss. He had so much energy it was like he was two or three people in one person.
“He was always talking, always dancing, always laughing. He loved Arsenal and hated Chelsea.”
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called at 8.02pm on September 17 to reports of a person in cardiac arrest on Beverley Way, New Malden.
“We sent two ambulance crews, an incident response officer, an advanced paramedic and three medics in cars to the scene, with the first of our medics arriving in under five minutes.”
To see the online fundraising page click here.
Pictured top: Andrae Stevens
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.