Nouri out of coma, but brain damage unchanged
AMSTERDAM: Stricken Ajax midfielder Abdelhak Nouri, who suffered serious, lasting brain damage after collapsing during a friendly, has been transferred out of intensive care, and can breathe on his own, the club said yesterday.
The 20-year-old is being cared for at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, where he was brought on July 14 from a hospital in Austria. “He is no longer in an induced coma and has full respiratory functions,” the club said, in a statement issued in the name of Nouri’s family.
But it added soberly that “his condition further remains unchanged from previous updates and is stable, but with serious and permanent brain damage.” Tributes have poured in from across The Netherlands and from abroad for the youngster, affectionately known as Appie, who joined the Amsterdam club at age seven and was a promising prospect.
Nouri suffered irregular heart problems in a pre-season friendly against German side Werder Bremen in Austria on July 8 and collapsed. He was resuscitated and flown to an Innsbruck hospital by helicopter.
At first the news seemed positive, but hopes for a quick recovery were shattered when Ajax later announced he had suffered massive brain damage, most due to a lack of oxygen. Dozens of visitors have flocked to the Amsterdam hospital grounds to pay tribute to Nouri since he arrived back in the country on July 14.
A large hedge 100 metres (yards) from the entrance is decked with Ajax scarves, flowers, poems, children’s drawings and Ajax shirts bearing Nouri’s number 34, all accompanied by the slogan ‘#StayStrongAppie’.
“The whole country is affected, not just Amsterdam. It was like it happened to our son,” said Connie, a mother of four who went to the hospital to lay roses. The youngster, who broke into the first team last season and had made nine appearances in the Dutch top flight, will not be forgotten at the Amsterdam Arena, despite not being able to play again.
‘PRAY FOR ABDELHAK’
Whiteboards are hung on the walls so fans can write messages of support, alongside the words ‘#Forevernumber34’, and ‘#PrayforAppie’. A group of young Real Madrid fans from Spain also stopped at the stadium. “It’s impossible not to be touched by his story. He’s only 20 years old,” one of them said.
In the opening match of the women’s 2017 Euro in the Netherlands, where Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima were present, a minute’s applause was held in the 34th minute. Ajax’s rivals PSV Eindhoven posted a photo of their players holding up papers bearing the words ‘#StayStrongAppie’ on Instagram, while Nice also voiced support before the match in France today.
Many other clubs including Manchester United, who beat Ajax in May’s Europa League final, did the same on social media. And Nouri’s team-mates will be hoping to pay a fitting tribute of their own, as they go into this season looking to capture the Dutch league title for the 34th time.
In their statement, his family again thanked fans for their support and asked everyone “to pray for Abdelhak”.—
AMSTERDAM: A visitor stands in silence next to items placed by the hospital where the Ajax midfielder Abdelhak Nouri receives treatments in Amsterdam on Sunday.