'Devastated he could go so soon': Rugby rocked by death of 36-year-old star

Ibrahim Diarra (R) celebrates a try with Remy Grosso. (Image: REMY GABALDA/AFP via Getty Images)

Former France back-rower Ibrahim Diarra has died at the age of 36 following a heart attack.

Diarra, who made his only Test appearance against Italy in 2008, had been in a Paris hospital in a critical condition since Friday after having suffered a cardiac arrest.

Those near to the former Top 14 champion said he then suffered numerous strokes which had caused irreversible brain damage.

Diarra started his professional career with Montauban before spending seven seasons with Castres, where he won the French title in 2013 and retired five years later.

Ibrahim Diarra runs with the ball during the European Rugby Champions Cup in 2014. (Image: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Rugby world shocked and saddened

"I am devastated that he could go so soon. We will always remember his smile, and an eternal memory of a great rugby player," the French Rugby Federation's president Bernard Laporte said on Twitter.

“My most sincere condolences to the family and those close to Ibrahim Diarra.”

Diarra's former coach at Montauban, Laurent Travers also paid tribute to him.

"He brought laughter and a ray of sunshine. He gave everything on the field," Travers told AFP.