Belgian goalkeeper Arne Espeel, a player on Winkel Sport B, died after reportedly collapsing on-field after saving a penalty kick on Saturday. He was 25.
“Winkel Sport is in deep mourning due to the sudden death of Arne Espeel goalkeeper Winkel Sport B. We wish Arne’s family and friends our sincere deepest sympathy in this great loss,” wrote the team in a statement.
“Football is an afterthought,” they added.
Espeel’s team was leading 2-1 in a match against Westrozebeke, when he collapsed in the second half of the game, according to CBS Sports. After catching a penalty kick, he collapsed on-field, and the match stopped as paramedics rushed onto the field and used a defibrillator on the player.
Espeel was then taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
On Monday night, more than 1,000 people — Espeel’s family numbering among them — came to Sint-Eloois-Winkel to pay homage to Espeel, according to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, and the results have not yet been made public. The cause of death remains undetermined.
This is the second high-profile incident in recent months where an athlete has collapsed during gameplay. Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin was rushed to the hospital after suffering an on-field cardiac arrest in January.
Hamlin has made a remarkable recovery, with the medical director of the NFL Players Association, saying he believes the player will return to the NFL.
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