Reigning Brazilian Serie A champions Flamengo have paid tribute to their former futsal player Alex Barbosa Pereira, who died of suspected COVID-19 complications.

The 44-year-old, who was commonly known as Leco, died at a Rio de Janeiro hospital last weekend after being admitted two weeks earlier with severe respiratory problems, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The first two COVID-19 tests were negative, but the result of a third examination confirmed that he had the disease,” close friend Marcelo Rodrigues told Globo News.

Leco was regarded as one of Brazil’s outstanding futsal players of the 1990s and represented Flamengo, Vasco da Gama and Botafogo over the course of his career.

“It’s with deep sadness that we inform of the death of our former futsal player Alex Barbosa Pereira Leco,” Flamengo said in a statement on Sunday. “Much strength to his family and friends. Our condolences. Thank you for everything, Leco.”

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people in Brazil, with Rio de Janeiro one of the country’s worst-affected cities.