Derrick Otim, a soccer player who trained with Nottingham Forest Football Club before he played for Xavier University in Cincinnati, died over the weekend after a drowning accident. The Nottingham, England native, who also played for Detroit City F.C., was 24 years old. He died while visiting friends at The Cliffs, a community in South Carolina, Friday, according to Pickens County coroner Kandy C. Kelley.
Otim graduated from Xavier in May. He was a stand-out midfielder for the university, making the All-Big East Third Team in 2019. In his 70 matches, he scored seven goals and had nine assists. The details on memorial services have not been announced, the university said in a news release. The coroner listed "fresh water drowning" as the type of accident. Authorities completed the autopsy on Saturday. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is investigating Otim's death.
As our thoughts continue to be with Derrick Otim's family and friends, we look back with appreciation for the time he spent with us. Thank you, Derrick. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/7ECQw1YVnF— Detroit City FC (@DetroitCityFC) July 6, 2020
"Better known to all of us as Del, Derrick exemplified the spirit and hard work of a Xavier student-athlete," the university said. "Not only did Del excel on the field of play, but his perseverance through off-the-field challenges demonstrated his character. The entire Xavier family grieves for Del and his family."
Xavier men's soccer coach Andy Fleming said Otim was "beloved" by his teammates and one of the most popular student-athletes at the university, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He is what's great about college sports," Fleming said. "Fled his native country as a refugee, settled in England, came to the U.S. on a scholarship. The growth he showed socially, academically and as a young man was amongst the most impressive I've seen in my 25 years of coaching."
Fleming said he was proud of Otim's success and said he was "very consistent and professional" in his approach as an athlete. "Our program raising money to fly his family over for our senior day last fall will forever be one of the great stories in my experience as a coach," Fleming said. "We have a lot of sad people in our soccer family today and we will play for Del this coming fall and beyond."
Nottingham Forest F.C. also shared a tribute to Otim on Twitter. "Rest in peace, Derrick. #NFFC are saddened to learn of the passing of former academy player Derrick Otim," the team said. "The thoughts of everyone at the club go out to his friends and family at this tragic time." His former teammate, Matty Cash, also remembered Otim, writing, "RIP Del, can't believe I'm writing this, Such a top lad who always brought a smile to everyone's face when around him, RIP."