Goalkeeper Marton Fulop has died at the age of 32, his former club MTK Budapest have announced.
Hungarian international Fulop played in England between 2004 and 2010. He is best remembered for his time with Sunderland but he was also on the books of Tottenham, Ipswich and West Brom and also had loan spells with Manchester City, Stoke, Leicester, Chesterfield and Coventry.
A statement on MTK’s official website read: “We are deeply sorrowful and grieved to announce that after a long illness, Marton Fulop has died. Rest in peace.”
Fulop decided to take a break from the game in 2013 following an operation to have a tumour removed from his arm.
His contract with Asteras Tripoli came to an end at the end of the 2012-13 season, and he was focused on making a full recovery before returning to the game.
He told Sunderland’s official website then: ”I am sure that, after a few months, I will be ready both physically and mentally to continue playing football.
”What is more, I’d like to train between the treatment courses, as the doctors have said this is fine, and in fact, they heartily recommend it.
”I am very grateful to all the messages and good wishes – it really helps me that many are thinking of me.”
MTK were Budapest-born Fulop’s first club, from where he joined Spurs at the age of 21 in the summer of 2004.
However, he did not make a first-team appearance for them and loan spells at Chesterfield, Coventry and Sunderland followed before he made the move to Wearside permanent in January 2007.
He was part of Roy Keane’s Championship-winning team and stayed with the Black Cats until 2010. He made more than 40 first-team appearances, although he also had loan stints at Leicester and Stoke during that time.
Manchester City signed Fulop on an emergency loan in 2010 because of injuries to regular number one Shay Given and back-up keepers Stuart Taylor and David Gonzalez, while current England number one Joe Hart was on loan at Birmingham.
The Hungarian made just one appearance for City before signing a two-year deal with Ipswich in 2010. The Suffolk side were managed by Roy Keane, who signed him at Sunderland.
After more than 30 appearances for Ipswich, just one followed in a one-year spell at West Brom, before he joined Greek side Asteras in 2012.
He also played 24 times for his country’s senior team, under the direction of four different coaches.
All the clubs Fulop played for in England were quick to pay their respects on Twitter, as were former team-mates.
Former Tottenham defender Ledley King said: “Shocked and saddened by the news about my former team-mate Marton Fulop. RIP my friend.”
Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham added: “Gutted to hear the news. Someone who acted as a mentor through my younger days with @Official_ITFC. RIP Marton.”
Rotherham’s Greg Halford – who played alongside him at Sunderland – tweeted: “Can’t believe it. RIP Marton Fulop. True gentlemen. Thoughts are with his family.”