RALEIGH — Those who knew Farouk Bseiso say they were blindsided by his death last week.
Bseiso, 24, died last Thursday in Prague, Czech Republic, while on a family vacation. The Raleigh native was well-known in the Triangle soccer community, having led St. David’s School to two high school state championships. He later played four years for N.C. State and on the Carolina Railhawks’ U-23 championship team.
“I’m devastated, heartbroken,” said Jose Cornejo, the longtime soccer coach at St. David’s. “He was a very good player and an incredible person.”
Bseiso was pursuing professional soccer in Finland, signing with FC Espoo and then playing on loan to FC Viikingit this season. A starter in four games for Viikingit, he scored in a June 14 game against FC Jippo – posting a video with the tag “First career goal” on his Facebook page – and was scheduled to return to FC Espoo later this month.
“I texted with him a few weeks ago and he was so happy and excited,” Railhawks assistant coach Dewan Bader said Wednesday. “Signing a professional contract is not an easy deal, but he had worked for it, gotten stronger, gotten stronger on the ball. That’s the type of person he was.”
Bader was the head coach of the Railhawks U-23 team that won the 2011 USASA title. Bseiso, a midfielder, was called a team leader by Bader.
“Always a smile on his face, always working incredibly hard,” Bader said. “He had a way about him. He was a captain on all of his teams. He had a way of holding his teammates accountable without making them mad at him, and always held himself accountable first. He just embodied all the characteristics in a player you want as a coach.”
The details about Bseiso’s death are not entirely clear. Bader said he was told it was a case of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, that Bseiso apparently collapsed while showering at an apartment in Prague.
A story on Bseiso’s death posted on N.C. State’s athletics website said carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death, based on information on the FC Espoo and FC Viikingit websites.
“It’s really sad,” said Watt Williams, one of Bseiso’s teammates at N.C. State. “Farouk was a great guy, a phenomenal leader. He was always the first one on the field and the last to leave.
“He was an incredible athlete, the kind the other players looked up to. He was someone you would look to when you were tired, someone who would give you that lift.”
Bseiso was a defensive midfielder for the Wolfpack from 2008 to 2011, playing first for coach George Tarantini and then his senior season for Kelly Findley.
“Physically, he was always in great shape,” said Williams, a former Broughton High standout who also was a midfielder for the Wolfpack. “He had this presence about him. He led by example.”
Bseiso was a team captain for St. David’s – which won NCISAA Class 2A titles in 2006 and 2007 – as a junior and senior, scoring 19 goals as a senior. He was recruited by Tarantini and served as one of the Wolfpack’s team captains.
“George gave him the opportunity to play, opened that door for him, and Farouk made the best of that opportunity,” Cornejo said.
The Railhawks had a moment of silence before Saturday’s game at WakeMed Soccer Park and Railhawks players wore armbands to honor Bseiso. FC Espoo and FC Viikingit planned to hold similar events in Bseiso’s memory.
Bseiso is survived by his mother, Dima Sabi; a twin brother, Fayek Bseiso, and sister, Dana Bseiso. His father, Atef Bseiso, is deceased.
“When I got the news of his death my first thoughts were of his brother, and his family,” Cornejo said. “It’s a very close family. This is such a tragic thing.”
The family visitation will be held Thursday from 6-9 p.m. at Bryan-Lee Funeral Home in Raleigh.
“How should we honor him?” Cornejo said. “We should honor the personality he had and the person he was in how we treat other people.
“He never had a bad thing to say about anybody or anything, always had a smile on his face, always was positive. We can honor him by being the same kind of person.”
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