Life changed for Abdelhak Nouri during a friendly match between Dutch heavyweights Ajax AFC and German club Werder Bremen on July 8, 2017. The youngster, then just 19, was playing in the Ajax midfield when he collapsed on the pitch due to cardiac arrhythmia that caused serious brain damage.

He was revived on the pitch and airlifted to hospital. He went into a coma soon after.


After 2 years, 8 months and 19 days, he woke out of coma on Friday, bringing a wave of happiness in a family that had waited and prayed and longed for hours, days, months and years for him to be awake and alive again.

His brother, Abderrahim, said on Dutch television: “He has not been home very long, we take care of him there now.


“I must say that since he is at home it is going much better than before in the hospital. He is aware of where he is, he is back in a familiar environment with his family. He’s no longer in a coma. He’s very bedridden and still very dependent on us.”


Nouri was born in Amsterdam and came through Ajax’s academy to debut for their first-team against Willem II in a KNVB Cup fixture on 21 September 2016. He had played nine times for Ajax before the incident. He is affectionately called Appie by his friends and family.

In December 2018, Ajax renamed their ‘Talent for the Future’ award for Nouri, and a number of his teammates – Justin Kluivert, Phillipe Sandler, Amin Younes and Kevin Diks – have adopted his shirt number 34 at their new clubs.


Ajax, after a year of Nouri’s collapse, announced that their on-pitch medical treatment of the player was inadequate and fired club doctor Don de Winter.


His former teammate at Ajax, Frenkie de Jong, had revealed Appie had played a key role in his high-profile transfer to Barcelona in summer 2019. 


“When I sat with him, his mother came in,” said De Jong. “She then asked Appie, ‘Appie, where should Frenkie go? To Barcelona?’


“As soon as she said that, his eyebrow rose. That was a very special moment.”


In the time of Coronavirus outbreak, this comes as a breather for Nouri’s fans. It remains to be seen if and whether the talented youngster makes a comeback to the pitch, but his resuscitation is good news for now.


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