I was so excited. The beginning of preseason is one of my favorite times of the year. I love waking up on summer weekends, no responsibilities in sight, and watching my beloved Ajax as they take on friendly matches with the hilly Austrian landscape as a backdrop. I settled in at my kitchen table with my laptop and breakfast in front of me as Werder Bremen and Ajax kicked off.
It was a thoroughly entertaining match. Ajax got off to a good start with a beautiful goal in the first half, but the Dutchmen were pegged back once and then twice to go down 2-1 in the second half. As per usual in the preseason, almost the entire Ajax 11 was rotated at halftime, which meant that youngsters like Abdelhak Nouri got a run-out in the first team.
As Ajax pressed on the attack, running towards the left of the pitch, the ball was crossed from the left to right flank. As my eyes followed the ball, I heard the Dutch announcer mention the name of Appie Nouri. As I looked down near the bottom left of my screen, I saw him lying on the pitch.
To be quite honest, I didn’t have the slightest clue what had happened. In talking with other Ajax fans, I came to the opinion that it was probably dehydration. However, two ambulances drove out onto the pitch and countless medical personnel was surrounding the player, who had been down for at least 10 or 15 minutes. As the camera began to show teary-eyed Ajax players and staff, I realized that this was something much more serious.
About 45 minutes after his collapse, the Ajax Twitter account tweeted an update informing everyone that Nouri is believed to have suffered from heart dysrhythmia, is in stable condition with a pulse, and is asleep. He was flown to a hospital in a trauma helicopter, where he “had a weak heartbeat and is being kept asleep to allow for optimal treatment and care.” The latest update from the club was on Saturday night, thanking everyone for their support during the situation and assuring supporters that they will be kept informed.
Watching someone in pain, especially during a life-threatening situation is obviously a very sad and uncomfortable moment. There are many questions, like how in the world a 20-year-old in seemingly perfect health could suffer such an unfortunate and scary injury. That being said, the important thing to remember is that he is alive. That is the only fact that matters in a time like this.