Australian cricket great Shane Warne had experienced chest pains prior to his death in Thailand and had asthma and some heart issues, Thai police said on Saturday, citing information from Warne's family.
One of the finest bowlers of all time whose talent and personality transcended cricket, Warne died aged 52 on Friday a day after arriving on the island of Koh Samui for a vacation.
“He had asthma and had seen a doctor about his heart,” Yuttana Sirisombat, superintendent at the Bo Phut police station on Koh Samui, told reporters
Asked about any illnesses before his death, he said: “We learned from his family that he had experienced chest pains when he was back home in his country.”
Warne was discovered unconscious in his room in a villa he shared with three associates in the Bo Phut area of the popular holiday island.
Medics and hospital staff were unable to revive him. Police have ruled out foul play but said an autopsy was required to confirm the cause of death.
Australians and the cricket world paid tribute to the man known to compatriots simply as “Warnie” on Saturday, after his country woke to the news of his death from a suspected heart attack.
Police superintendent Yuttana declined to comment when asked about the likely cause of death.
He said the Australian’s body would be transferred to Surat Thani on the Thai mainland on Sunday for autopsy.
Australian embassy officials assisting police declined to comment to media on Koh Samui.
Earlier on Saturday, three men that police confirmed were Warne’s travelling companions were questioned for two hours at the Bo Phut police station. They returned to the station later in the evening and were in discussions for more than two hours, but were not under questioning.
Police had earlier said that his companions were not under suspicion and that the interviews were procedural.
Australians laid tributes of flowers and beer bottles at a statue of Warne in Melbourne on Saturday, after the country woke to the shocking news of his death.
As many in the sporting world and beyond expressed grief, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison offered Warne's family a state funeral.
“Shane was one of our greatest cricketers of all time . . . but Shane was more than this to Australians. Shane was one of our nation’s greatest characters,” Morrison said in a statement.
Warne’s death dominated Australian media on Saturday, pushing news of devastating floods on the east coast of Australia and the war in Ukraine off the top of news bulletins and websites.
Elizabeth Hurley paid tribute to Warne as her “beloved Lionheart”. The actress and mode was engaged to him from September 2011 until they split in December 2013, with their relationship attracting significant media attention.
Hurley posted a series of photos on Instagram of them together, including one of them kissing on a beach. Another shows them smiling and holding hands at a charity cricket match.
Hurley, best known for starring in the Austin Powers and Bedazzled films, wrote: “I feel like the sun has gone behind a cloud forever. RIP my beloved Lionheart shanewarne23.”
The record-breaking Australian cricketer could not be revived after being found unresponsive in his Thailand villa on Friday, following a suspected heart attack.
Many celebrity friends of Warne have since paid tribute, recalling fond memories and remembering him as a “true cricket legend”.
Elton John shared a photo of himself with Warne and Hurley, and he referenced the death of Rod Marsh, the Australian cricketer who also died on Friday.
He wrote: “A tragic day for Australian cricket. Two legends passing is heartbreaking. I knew them both and played cricket with Rod in Perth. A very special and fearless man.
“Shane was a magical bowler and such huge fun. They were both Australians through and through, which made them so endearing.
“My sympathies to their families and loved ones.”
Ed Sheeran said he had spoken to Warne on the phone this week to mark the anniversary of the death last year of music mogul Michael Gudinski.
The singer-songwriter shared a photo of Warne and Gudinski together on Instagram and wrote: “The world keeps taking incredible people away.
“I spoke to Shane on the anniversary of Michael’s passing this week saying we were both raising a glass of 707 in his honour, and now this news comes out.
“Shane was the kindest heart, and always went above and beyond to make people feel welcome and special. Such a gentleman.
“He gave so many hours and years of his life to bring joy to others, and was such an amazing friend to me. Il bloody miss you mate. Absolutely gutted.”
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger shared a black and white photo of Warne on Twitter while recalling his cricketing talent.
He wrote: “I’m so saddened by the sudden death of Shane Warne. He brought such joy to the game and was the greatest spin bowler ever.”
Australian pop star Kylie Minogue also paid her respects, writing: “Vale Warney. Condolences to his family, friends and fans. The one and only King of Spin, #ShaneWarne.”
Her sister and fellow pop star Dannii tweeted: “I am devastated to wake up to the news that Shane Warne has passed. My heart breaks for his family and friends.
“He was such a light and energy in the room. He was always lovely to my whole family.”
Martin Pakula, sports minister of Warne's home state Victoria, said the Great Southern Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), where the spinner took his 700th wicket in 2006, would be renamed the SK Warne Stand. The new moniker references the cricketer's first and middle name, Keith.
A sombre stream of people laid flowers, cricket balls and beer bottles at the foot of the statue showing Warne in full flight as a bowler.
"I came to pay my respects for a guy who just loved sport, who loved all sports, football, cricket," said professional Australian rules football player Tom Mitchell as he left a football.
Warne’s last Tweet was a tribute to Marsh, who died earlier on Friday at the age of 74.
Australia’s men’s and women’s teams wore black armbands in Warne’s honour when playing matches in Pakistan and New Zealand respectively on Saturday.
Credited with reviving the art of leg spin, Warne made his Test debut in 1992 against India, kicking off a 15-year international career.
Warne was rated as one of the five greatest players of the 20th century by Wisden but his hard living often made tabloid headlines as well.