There isn’t much unbridled joy about at Ajax — or football generally — at the moment. But one tale has emerged that brings a joyous flutter to the heart with the news that Abdelhak “Appie” Nouri is seemingly on the mend after waking from a coma.
As the Sons of the Gods try to second-guess the fate of the Eredevisie in the wake of global coronavirus pandemic — with the entirely feasible prospect of the league being cancelled meaning the table-toppers would be potentially denied the title — the fact that Nouri is awake is so heartening.
The promising Ajax midfielder, who is now aged 22, was seen very much as a rising star of the future at the Johan Cruijff ArenA. He started to turn heads as a teenager back in 2016 with a good range of passing, a cool head and a determination, and he was tipped to go on and make the first team and help the cause under the then head coach Marcel Keizer (he was replaced in December of that year by the current head coach Erik ten Hag).
But fate struck and tragically he was left in a coma after collapsing in a game — but is now, according to media reports, said to be “doing well”. He suffered sustained severe and permanent brain damage after a cardiac arrhythmia attack in a pre-season game against German side Werder Bremen back in the summer of 2017. After the incident, supporters of the Amsterdam giants revealed a big banner showing Nouri in his number 34 — and a series of touching, emotional and heart-warming tributes followed for the great and the good around the global game.
The attack left him a coma for months but is now on the road to recovery in a specially-built house built especially for him. His brother Abderrahim has revealed that he communicates with his sibling and does so through raising eyebrows — and says Appie also reacts physically when viewing football on TV. His dad Mohammed told a Dutch news website:
“The family had been through a serious ordeal. We have to take care of him at our very best. We try to do a lot ourselves.”
One of those who paid tribute to the stricken player was Barcelona ace and ex-Ajax team-mate Frenkie De Jong. He has told how Nouri helped to convince him to move to the Catalan giants from the Sons of the Gods. He revealed:
“He talked to me a lot in a summer. When I sat with him, his mother came in. She then asked him, ‘Appie, where should Frenkie go? To Barcelona?’ — as soon as she said that, his eyebrow rose. That was a very special moment.”
In a time of crisis around the globe, the story of his well-being lifts the heart, not just of Ajax fans but all true football supporters.