VIENNA (AP) — Ajax midfielder Abdelhak Nouri has been diagnosed with severe and permanent brain damage, five days after he collapsed due to an irregular heartbeat during a friendly game in Austria.
Dutch club Ajax said Thursday on Twitter that it “received very bad news” regarding Nouri’s condition, after doctors at a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria woke the player from an induced coma.
The club added that “recovery chances of these crucial brain functions are nil.”
Nouri is expected to return soon to the Netherlands for further treatment at a hospital in Amsterdam.
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The diagnosis came two days after tests indicated that Nouri’s heart was undamaged while a CT scan of his brain and initial neurological tests showed no irregularities either. Doctors were “cautiously optimistic about his recovery,” Ajax said at that time.
The 20-year-old Dutchman collapsed and was taken to hospital by helicopter with Ajax trailing Werder Bremen 2-1 in Saturday’s preseason friendly. The game in Zillertal in the Austrian Alps was abandoned after the 70th-minute incident.
“This is the worst possible message. It’s terrible,” Ajax director Edwin van der Sar said. “It’s been a real shock to Ajax even though we knew this was a possible scenario.”
Nouri made his debut for Ajax in September 2016 and played 15 games. He was part of the squad for the Europa League final in Stockholm in May when Ajax lost 2-0 to Manchester United, but did not play. He also remained part of the club’s youth team in the Dutch second division, where he was voted best player of last season after scoring 10 goals in 26 matches.
“Abdelhak was such a great talent,” Van der Sar said. “Unfortunately we’ll never know how far his star would have risen.”