RIP Leo Krafft – Wrocław Panthers Norwegian lineman dies at age 28

Leo Krafft, the 28-year-old Norwegian defensive tackle for the Wrocław Panthers, has died after reportedly being sedated by paramedics called to the scene by the Wrocław police according to the Gazeta Wroclawska.

According to the report, Krafft had been taken into custody after an incident and was given a sedative to calm him down but collapsed and was rushed to hospital where he died an hour later.

The 28 year old was one of the most promising football players to come out of Norway and will be sorely missed. He had joined the Panthers this season and played in six games.

He began his football journey in Hamar, Norway, when he was just 11 years old. His desire to play at the highest level possible resulted in him finding an exchange program in Texas with Lehman High School

Following his return to Norway a year later, Krafft signed for the Valerenga Trolls, a club located about an hour and a half from where he lived, and commuted for practice and games, helping the team win the Norwegian under 19 title.

Krafft, already with a wealth of experience and no stranger to the weight room, was now ready for the men’s game and signed for the Eidsvoll 1814s, one of the top teams in Norway. He spent two years with the squad as one of their top players before taking his talents over to Sweden with the Carlstad Crusaders

Krafft’s now 6 ‘6, 300 pound frame combined with freakish athleticism for a big man was a force to be reckoned with. He proved a vital piece in the Crusaders’ 2017 National Championship run and was at the time one of the most promising Scandinavian big men in Europe.

Krafft returned to Norway in 2018 to play with the top team in the country, the Oslo Vikings. Head Coach Derek Mann was profoundly impressed with Krafft at the time and had this to say about his passing:

‘I coached Leo for one season in 2018 while he played for the Oslo Vikings. He was always determined to play football at the highest level possible. It is very sad to see a young man pass away so young. Condolences to his family and loved ones. RIP, Leo.’

Krafft’s talent began to garner interest further afield and in 2020 he earned himself a trip to both the NFL’s International Pathway Program and CFL Global combine

After being away from the sport for a couple of years following the Covid-19 pandemic, Krafft signed with Wrocław earlier this year. Krafft was an integral part of the Panthers success this year, despite battling a few injuries. 

Leo Krafft will undoubtedly be missed incredibly on and off the field. 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.