Young Ajax midfielder Abdelhak Nouri suffers brain damage after collapsing during match

Ajax are mourning the abrupt conclusion of Abdelhak Nouri's career after the young Dutchman suffered serious and permanent brain damage when falling ill during a pre-season friendly.

The 20-year-old midfielder collapsed during Saturday's meeting with Werder Bremen in Hippach, Austria, and after receiving emergency treatment on the pitch, he was airlifted to hospital.

Nouri had spent the week in an artificial coma in intensive care in Innsbruck and on Thursday medical tests on his brain functions revealed "serious and permanent brain damage".

A statement published on Ajax's official website said "a lot of the brain is not functioning and the chances of recovering these crucial brain functions is nil thereafter".

The former Holland Under-19 international has been cleared for transport and is expected to be transferred to a hospital in Amsterdam for further care.

Following the diagnosis, Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar, their former goalkeeper who also played for Manchester United, told the club site: "This is the worst possible news. It's terrible.

"We feel enormously for his parents, siblings and other relatives.

"The blow is also hard for Ajax, although we knew we might have to consider this scenario.

"These have been uncertain days, and lots of people in different way have sympathised with his situation. That is greatly appreciated.

"Abdelhak has such great talent, but unfortunately we will never know how far his star would have gone if this had not happened to him."

Nouri - known as 'Appie' - 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 over Willem II in the KNVB-Beker.

On Monday Ajax revealed Nouri's heart was functioning normally and appeared to be undamaged, adding that it was "too soon to say anything about his recovery, as his brain function cannot be tested properly as long as he is kept asleep".

It was then confirmed that he would be released from an artificial coma.

The capital club's opponents on Saturday, Bundesliga side Bremen, were among the first to convey their support, tweeting: "Our prayers are with him #StayStrongAppie".

A series of Eredivisie outfits and even Premier League club Bournemouth also expressed support. The official Cherries account tweeted: "Our thoughts and prayers are with him. #StayStrongAppie".

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