A 25-year-old goalkeeper died suddenly during a football match in West Flanders, Belgium on Saturday evening.
Arne Espeel, a goalkeeper of the Winkel Sport B, has died on the spot after stopping a penalty kick in the second half of the match.
According to a local news outlet VRT, the young goalkeeper of Sint-Eloois-Winkel stopped the penalty kick, but he then collapsed.
“The ball was still in play,” assistant coach Stefaan Dewerchin of Winkel Sport B said. “Our goalkeeper got up as quickly as possible to get the ball, but he fell down afterwards. It was really terrible to see.”
The game was immediately stopped.
The emergency services quickly arrived on site and tried to revive the 25-year-old goalkeeper for half an hour.
Espeel was then rushed to the hospital, but he was later declared dead on arrival.
“The players all showered together after the incident and then we sat down in the canteen,” says Dewerchin. “When the message came that our goalkeeper had died, what an unusually hard blow. I think some players do not yet realize what exactly happened.”
No details have been released yet on the cause of death. An autopsy will be conducted on Monday, according to VRT.
More from local news Nieuwsblad:
[Translation]The disbelief is great and the sadness immense at the West Flemish amateur club Winkel Sint-Eloois. The club plays in the first national but also has a B team in the second provincial. All young friends from the municipality who have been playing together since childhood. On Saturday evening, the team received Westrozebeke at 6 PM. After 45 minutes the score was 2-1 and after fifteen minutes into the second half there was a penalty for the visitors. Home goalkeeper Arne Espeel stopped Mohammed El Baghdadi’s penalty kick and shouted yes when he suddenly went down again. He was shaking and no one quite knew what was happening. When Espeel remained lying down, the seriousness of the situation was seen and the first care was given to him. The emergency services also arrived on site and did everything possible with, among other things, a defibrillator, but the help was to no avail.
His younger brother Aaron (20) sat back on the bench for the first time in weeks after an injury and saw everything happen before his eyes.
“This is a disaster and a shock to everyone,” said Patrick Rotsaert, sports manager of Winkel.
“Arne had been with the club all his life and was very loved. He was a wonderfully sympathetic boy, always in a good mood and willing to help. This is really a heavy blow. First of all for his family and also our entire club.”
Naturally, the match was stopped.