Belgian Goalkeeper, 25, Dies Suddenly After Saving Penalty Kick

Arne Espeel, a 25-year old Belgian soccer goalkeeper, died suddenly on Sunday after collapsing on the field immediately after saving a penalty kick.

Espeel goalkept for Winkel Sport B, a team that plays in the Belgian West Brabant second provincial division. In his final match, Winkel Sport B was leading Westrozebeke 2-1 at their home field at Sint-Eloois-Winkel in the West Flanders Province.

In the second half of the game Westrozebeke was awarded a penalty kick, to which Espeel saved.

Belgian media reports that the Belgian goalkeeper saved the penalty shot and collapsed on the ground. Emergency crews immediately took the pitch in an attempt to revive the player with a defibrillator, but to no avail.

Espeel was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital following his collapse.

“Winkel Sport is in very deep mourning by the sudden death of Arne Espeel,” Espeel’s team said in a statement. “We wish family and friends of Arne our heartfelt condolences in this heavy loss. Football is an afterthought.”

“The ball was still in play. Our goalkeeper got up as fast as possible to receive the ball, but then he fell. It was really terrible to watch. When the message came that our goalkeeper was dead, it was an unusually heavy blow. I think some players still don’t realize exactly what happened,” said Winkel Sport assistant Stefaan Dewerchin.

The cause of Espeel’s death has not yet been revealed, but media reports indicate that his autopsy was scheduled to take place on Monday.

Separate reports have stated that over 1,000 individuals showed up to Espeel’s team’s home field to pay tribute to the player on Monday night.

“This is a disaster and a shock to everyone,” said Patrick Rotsaert, sporting director of Winkel Sport. “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 ready to help. This is really a heavy blow. First of all for his family and also our whole club.”

This news and commentary by Andrew White originally appeared on Valiant News.


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