Belgian Goalkeeper Dies on Field After Saving Penalty

Bao Zhang
By Bao Zhang
February 15, 2023News
Belgian Goalkeeper Dies on Field After Saving Penalty
General view of a soccer ball during a match. (Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Belgian goalkeeper Arne Espeel, aged 25, died on the pitch right after saving a penalty shot in an amateur soccer match on Saturday.

Medical staff tried to revive him with a defibrillator, but he was shortly after pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Espeel played in the second provincial division of West Brabant in Belgium for Winkel Sport B. The team was 2-1 up in the second half against Westrozebeke when Espeel saved a penalty kick but collapsed on the ground after, according to Belgian media.

The club mourned the loss of Espeel in a statement after the incident.

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

Team manager Patrick Rotsaert also spoke out.

“This is a disaster and a shock to everyone,” he said via The Independent.

“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 willing to help. This is really a heavy blow. First of all for his family and also our entire club.”

A walk of silence was held on Monday in Sint-Eloois-Winkel for Espeel, attended by 1000 mourners, including Espeel’s family and teammates.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday; however, the results have yet to be disclosed.


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