Ajax player who collapsed during game has permanent brain damage

Abdelhak Nouri playing for Ajax

A promising 20-year-old Dutch footballer has been left permanently brain damaged after collapsing during a pre-season friendly game, his club Ajax said Thursday.

"I want to say again, all of the strength and all of the thoughts are with him, and of course when the work goes onto the pitch then you have to do it, but on days like this it is not easy".

Nouri made 15 appearances for Ajax's first team last season, including three in the Europa League, and scored on his senior debut in a 5-0 win against Willem II in the KNVB-Beker.

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.

'The diagnosis that has been made is that a large part of his brain is no longer functioning, and that the chance of recovering these crucial brain functions is nil, ' said the club.

The Netherlands man was rushed to hospital, after being airlifted from the ground, where he suffered a cardiac arrhythmia during Ajax's game against Werder Bremen.

Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar, their former goalkeeper, told the club website: "This is the worst possible news".

"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. We really appreciate that.

"Abdelhak is such a great talent, but unfortunately we will never know how far his star would have reached had this not happened".

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