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Ajax star Nouri improving and watching football after waking from coma

02:26 GMT+3 27/03/2020
Abdelhak Nouri Ajax
The 22-year-old hasn't played football since collapsing during a friendly against Werder Bremen almost three years ago

Abdelhak Nouri's family have confirmed that the Ajax star is now being treated at home after suffering permanent brain damage, while offering a positive update on his progress since waking up from a coma.

The Dutch midfielder rose through the youth ranks at the Johan Cruyff ArenA before graduating to the senior squad in 2015.

He went on to take in nine competitive first-team appearances for Ajax, before his career was cruelly cut short during the club's pre-season tour of the Austrian Alps in July 2017.

Nouri had a cardiac arrhythmia attack on the pitch and was put into a medically induced coma as doctors tried to stabilise him in hospital, before concluding he had sustained severe damage to his brain.

The 22-year-old woke up a year later, but was left unable to move or communicate for himself.

During a special edition of Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door, Abdelhak's brother Abderrahim Nouri revealed that the former Ajax prospect is now able to sit up, watch football with the rest of his family and convey emotion, having been set up in a new home specially designed to cater for his needs.

"He has not been home very long, we take care of him there now," Abderrahim said. "I must say that since he is at home it is going much better than before in the hospital. 

"He is aware of where he is, he is back in a familiar environment with his family. He’s no longer in a coma. He’s just awake.

"He sleeps, he sneezes, he eats, he burps, but it’s not like he gets out of bed. He’s very bedridden and still very dependent on us.

"On his good days, there is a form of communication, for example, confirmation with his eyebrows or a smile. But you notice that he can’t last that very long.

"We talk to him like he’s not sick. We take him into our conversations and we watch football with him in the living room, for example. 

"Then he watches. You notice that he likes that very much. He often shows emotions. Sometimes he is emotional, but often there is also a smile. 

"That does us good. That makes you really appreciate a smile."

His father Mohammed added: "We have to take care of him at our very best. We try to do a lot ourselves."

After Nouri's diagnosis, Ajax were forced to admit that their on-field treatment of the player was inadequate and club doctor Don de Winter was relieved of his duties.

It was reported that De Winter deviated from UEFA's guidelines and began resuscitation attempts too late, with Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar explaining that a defibrillator should "have been used sooner".

"Had this happened, it's possible that Abdelhak would have come out in a better condition," Van de Sar said in a statement. "This isn't certain, but it's a possibility.

"We recognise our responsibility and liability for the consequences of this."