Gambia's national women's football team goalkeeper Fatim Jawara has died after attempting to travel to Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. The 19-year-old was on a boat that got into difficulties while travelling from Libya to Europe last month, said Gambia's football federation.

News of her death was confirmed by her family, according to Lamin Kaba Bajo, the football association's president.

"Her death is untimely, but we will remember her for her great performances on the pitch," he said.

"She will be remembered for saving a penalty kick in a friendly encounter involving the national soccer team and the Glasgow Girls from Scotland," Bajo told AFP news agency.

Chorro Mbega told the BBC Jawara was a member of the squad that represented the Gambia in the 2012 under-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan, having first joined the team in 2009.

"Fati was a player who can play anywhere on the field. I'm really sad about this because she fought so much to be number one," Mbega said.

The Gambian football federation said in a Facebook post that the way in which the footballer had died was "shocking".

Jawara's death by drowning has highlighted the issue of illegal migration. Gambians make up many of the undocumented migrants who come to Italy and represent the fourth-largest group of arrivals to Italy by number according to the Institute of Migration (IOM).

There were reports that Jawara had gone the "Back Way", which refers to the boat voyage across the Mediterranean, according to Fatu Fatty, the captain of Red Scorpions – the football team Jawara played for. It is believed Jawara was hoping to make a new life for herself in Europe.

"A few days later we confirmed from her family that an agent had contacted them to say Fatim was among those on the boat that capsised," Fatty said.

Jawara was not the first footballer to have died in this way, said a Gambia Football Federation official, but she was one of the most high-profile.