A Belgian goalkeeper has died after collapsing on the pitch seconds after saving a penalty for his side.
Arne Espeel, 25, was in action for Winkel Sport B – who play in the second provincial division of West Brabant in Belgium – against Westrozebeke at Winkel Sport’s home ground in Sint-Eloois-Winkel, West Flanders Province.
Winkel Sport were 2-1 up before Westrozebeke were awarded a penalty in the second half.
Espeel saved the penalty, before he suddenly collapsed on the pitch, dropping immediately to the ground.
Emergency services ran on to help Espeel and did all they could to save him with a defibrillator also used, but the 25-year-old was pronounced dead soon after he was taken to a hospital.
An autopsy was scheduled to take place on Monday with the cause of Espeel’s death as of yet unconfirmed.
Following the tragedy, the Belgian club issued a statement that said: ‘Winkel Sport is in very deep mourning at the sudden passing of goalkeeper Arne Espeel.
‘We wish Arne’s family and friends our heartfelt condolences at this heavy loss. Football is taking a back seat for some time.’
Winkel Sport B assistant Stefaan Dewerchin added: ‘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. All the players showered together after the incident. When the message came that our goalkeeper was dead, it was an unusually heavy blow.
‘I think some players still don’t realise exactly what happened.’
The club’s sporting director Patrick Rotsaert explained how hard the news had been to take for the club.
He told Flemish outlet Het Nieuwsblad: ‘It’s a tragedy and a shock to us. Arne had been with the club his whole life, and he was dearly loved. It’s a really hard blow.’