Ajax midfielder Abdelhak Nouri has suffered serious and permanent brain damage after he collapsed during Saturday’s friendly against Werder Bremen, the Eredivisie club have confirmed.
Nouri was treated on the field during the game at Lindenstadion in Hippach, Austria – which was subsequently abandoned – before a trauma helicopter arrived and the 20-year-old was taken to hospital.
Although Nouri recovered a stable heart rate and Ajax confirmed on Monday that his heart was functioning normally, doctors were unable to examine his brain until he was brought out of an induced coma.
On Tuesday, the hospital in Innsbruck were “cautiously optimistic” after a CT scan and other neurological tests did not show any abnormalities but Ajax have confirmed the latest tragic developments.
“Ajax are deeply saddened by the news that Appie Nouri has been diagnose with serious and permanent brain damage,” read a statement released via the club’s Twitter account.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his loved ones at this difficult time.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his loved ones in this difficult time. (2/2)#StayStrongAppie
— AFC Ajax (English) (@AFCAjax_EN) July 13, 2017
Nouri made his Eredivisie breakthrough with Ajax last season, making nine appearances for the first team under Peter Bosz. But it was with Jong Ajax where he truly shone in Netherlands’ second-tier Eerste Divisie, scoring 10 goals and supplying 11 assists in 26 matches for Marcel Keizer’s side.
Keizer has now succeeded Bosz as first-team coach following the latter’s departure to Borussia Dortmund and he oversaw Nouri as he was named Eerste Divisie player of the year for 2016-17.
“This is the worst possible news we could get. It is devastating,” said Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar.
“There are no words to describe what [Nouri’s family] are going through. This is a huge blow for Ajax, even if we knew this scenario was a possibility.
“There were some very difficult and insecure days, with a lot of people showing their support. We really appreciate that.
“Abdelhak is such a huge talent, but we will never know how bright his star would have shone had this not happened.”
Speaking to AT5 earlier this week, Keizer explained how training sessions and usual footballing priorities had taken a back seat at Ajax as the club pulled together to support Nouri and one another.
“It did not matter if the players came to training or not, everyone loves Appie. We encourage everyone to talk about it, cry together,” he said.
“He has a very good relationship with his room-mate Hakim Ziyech. But there are guys who have played football with him for 12 years. It’s not easy.
“I just hope he gets better. He represents Ajax for me, dominant and attractive football. That’s Appie.
“We are not so concerned with the qualifying round of the Champions League, it’s all about Appie first.”
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