Former Albion midfielder Andrea Orlandi has been forced to retire at 34 with heart disease which could have killed him.

The problem was detected in a recent medical with current club Virtus Entella, who play in Italy's Serie C.

Orlandi said: "Sadly it is not safe for me to play on and I was devastated when the doctor broke the news.

"However, I am coming to terms with it quite quickly and am so thankful to all the medical staff who have helped me.

"I could have had an operation to try and carry on playing, but at 34 it would have been risky and stupid to do so. I have to think about my future more than football now.

"The truth is I could have died during my career, so I must look at the bright side that I am still here with my wife and kids and that I enjoyed many years playing the game I love.

"It is still very early so I have not planned my next step yet. For now, I will enjoy some time with my wonderful family."

Orlandi scored seven goals in 45 games for Albion across two seasons from 2012-14, helping them reach the Championship play-offs twice.

He formed a bond with fellow Spanish speakers Leo Ulloa (below), Bruno, David Lopez, Vicente and his close friend Inigo Calderon.

The Argus: Orlandi said: "I had a special five years at Swansea but my two years at the Albion were the greatest of my career.

"It was a fantastic group of players and some of my best friends in life were at the club at the same time. It made those wins extra memorable when enjoying them alongside true friends at a tremendous club.

"My first season was the best I have ever played personally and I absolutely loved the city of Brighton. I have missed the place ever since I left and hopefully I will get the chance to come and visit soon."

Orlandi played for Alaves, Barcelona B and Swansea before joining Albion.

He went on to represent Blackpool, Cypriot sides Anorthosis Famagusta and Apoel Nicosia and Italian outfit Novara Calcio.

Orlandi also linked up again with Calderon at Indian side Chennaiyin before returning to Italy with Virtus Entella.