Twenty-four-year-old Belgian soccer player Gregory Mertens died Thursday, three days after collapsing during a game because of cardiac arrest. Mertens’s team, Sporting Lokeren, announced the news on Twitter on Thursday morning.
“With sadness we inform you of the loss of Gregory Mertens. We wish his family and friends all the strength, ” said the tweet, translated from Dutch.
Mertens, who previously played for Beligum’s national under-21 team, collapsed during a reserve-team game on Monday. After being revived on the field and transported to a hospital in the city of Genk, he was put into a coma, according to a team statement. His condition, however, continued to deteriorate in the next three days and on Thursday, his family agreed with doctors to cease life support for the player. Mertens was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m. local time.
“Everyone in and around this club breathes soccer. But suddenly something happens that makes us realize that soccer is just soccer. Today is such a time, ” the press statement continued.”Gregory was only at the club for one-and-a-half years, but made in that short time he became indispensable. … Now we will have to learn to live with the loss. Gregory, we will miss you!”
His best season was 2011/12, when he played 3022 minutes for the Bruges club and netted two goals.
This season, he had started 11 games for Lokeren, who finished eighth in the regular-season table.
Players, both former and current, as well as clubs from both Belgium and beyond have been expressing their condolences on Twitter.
Rest In Peace Gregory Mertens … Gone to soon
— R.Lukaku Bolingoli10 (@RomeluLukaku9)
Rest in peace Gregory Mertens! Veel sterkte aan familie, vrienden en (ex-) collega's. Niet te vatten!
— Dries Mertens (@dries_mertens14)
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker)
— fabrice muamba (@fmuamba)
RIP Gregory Mertens my thoughts go out to his family and friends at this sad time.
— Adnan Januzaj (@adnanjanuzaj)
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC)
RIP Gregory Mertens: Our thoughts are with his family, friends and @KSCLokeren colleagues at this very sad time. #AVFC
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial)
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC)
Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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