AJAX star Abdelhak ‘Appie’ Nouri miraculously woke up after two years and nine months in a coma.
The 22-year-old Dutch ace crashed on the field in July 2017 after suffering an attack of cardiac arrhythmia.
He suffered serious and permanent brain damage following the accident.
Nouri is now awake and “sleeps, eats, frowns and belches but is very dependent,” according to his brother Abderrahim.
He said the footballer “is fine” and lives in a house specially built for him.
Abderrahim told the Dutch television show De Wereld Draait Door: “He hasn’t been home very long, we take care of him there now. I have to say that since he is at home he has been doing much better than before in the hospital.
“He is aware of where he is, he has returned to a family environment with his family.
“He is no longer in a coma. He is very bedridden and still very dependent on us.”
The couple does not communicate through words or signals but by raising their eyebrows.
Perhaps the most moving news of all is that he can watch football again and even react to it.
His father Mohammed reported that Appie – who joined the Dutch club at the age of seven – and his family experienced a “serious ordeal”.
He added: “We have to take care of him in the best way. We try to do a lot on our own.”
The news is all the more incredible given the fact that the family declared in July 2017 that it had practically no chance of recovery and was in a permanent vegetative state.
Abderrahim then said: “He cannot walk, he cannot speak, he does not recognize us, he does not know who we are. He does not hear anything, he does not hear anything.
“According to the doctor, he will never be able to do this again, he will never recover.”
But incredibly, Appie, who made his senior team debut at the age of 19 in September 2016, returned to communicate and spend time with loved ones.
And even more remarkable is the fact that he played a role in the arrival of ex-Ajax star Frenkie de Jong upon arrival at Johan Cruyff ArenA and the subsequent transfer to Barcelona.
De Jong said, “He talked to me a lot in the summer.
“When I sat with him, his mother came. Then she asked Appie, ‘Appie, where should Frenkie go? To Barcelona?’ As soon as he said it, his eyebrow raised. It was a very special moment. “
Nouri was considered to be Ajax’s next superstar and was named to the tournament team at the U19 European Championships in 2016.
He collapsed during a pre-season friendly against Werder Bremen in the Austrian Alps.
Before the game at little Lindenstadion Hippach, about 45 miles from Innsbruck, Appie, who played as number 10, had complained of stomach pains and was not sleeping well.
The heat was stifling that day, but he still played, replacing the new Chelsea who signed Hakim Ziyech in the half-time.
It was at the 72nd minute that he slowed down, lowered himself gently to the ground, then turned on his back and stared at the sky.
The referee took 10 seconds to realize that he was on the ground and needed urgent medical attention.
Another 10 seconds passed before the arrival of Physio Ajax. So, 35 seconds after his fall, the club’s doctor was at Nouri’s side.
When Ajax striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar panicked, Werder Bremen players reacted in shock and their team doctor rushed to the field to help them too.
The images showed a screen being mounted around Nouri as they attempted to help him – but clearly feared the worst.
Local doctor Daniel Rainer also rushed to the stadium to help and said that after 13 minutes of treatment Nouri had a heartbeat and was breathing.
Nouri was then urgently transported to a nearby hospital by helicopter and placed in an induced coma.
Ajax admitted in June 2018 that their Nouri care had been “inadequate”.
The club’s doctors spent too much time trying to clear the affected player’s airways, rather than checking their heart rate and circulation.
Manchester United legend Edwin van der Sar, CEO of Ajax, said at the time: “If it had happened, it is possible that Abdelhak would have come out in better condition. This is not certain, but it is a possibility.
“We recognize our responsibility and responsibility for the consequences of this.”
Nouri was brought back to Holland for further treatment. He smiled in December 2017 after putting a soccer ball in his hand while going through rehabilitation in a specialized center in the southern city of Tilburg.
This now appears to have been the catalyst for his recovery and his path towards ultimately a better standard of living.
Her brother Abderrahim said it best when she said: “Sometimes it’s emotional, but often there is also a smile. This is good for us. This really makes you appreciate a smile.”