Gregory Mertens has died three days after he collapsed during a Sporting Lokeren match.
Mertens, 24, who had previously played for the Belgium Under-21 national side, suffered a cardiac arrest during a reserve match with Genk on Monday.
Herman Van de Putte, who is Lokeren’s spokesman, explained that Mertens’ condition had continued to deteriorate over the last few days, and after talking to doctors, the player’s family agreed to switch off Mertens’ life support machine. They then gathered around his bedside and Mertens was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m. local time.
Lokeren soon released an emotional statement, via the Guardian, that confirmed Mertens’ death.
“Today something happened which no one could ever dare to predict. Much too soon, we are saying goodbye to Gregory Mertens. We are a football club. Everyone in and around the club ives and breathes football. But suddenly something happens which makes us realise football is just football. Today is such a time.”
A further statement from Lokeren, via the Daily Mail, provided further details on Mertens’ final days.
“Despite the good medical care of our own sports staff and colleagues in Genk, it soon appeared the situation was very serious. Gregory was revived on the field and transferred to the hospital in Genk.
“Medical staff have done everything they could to save Gregory, but they finally had to acknowledge their impotence. Today, Gregory died at around 1630. His family were able to say goodbye.
“The desperation felt by everyone at Lokeren is huge – both by our young players and our first-team guys, the coaching staff, the board – they cannot believe this was possible.
“Gregory was only at the club for a year and a half, but in that short time his quiet modesty made him an indispensable person. Now we will have to learn to live with the loss.
“We realise this is an incredibly difficult time for his family. We have offered them, in the name of the whole club, our sincere condolences. The club remain in contact with them and will assist them in any way possible. Gregory, we will miss you!”
After Gregory Mertens collapsed during the encounter, medical staff spent 30 minutes trying to resuscitate the player while he was stricken on the field.
Mertens had originally made his soccer debut back in 2011 for Cercle Brugge, and he only completed his transfer to Lokeren in January of 2014. Mertens ultimately made 30 appearances for the Belgian side, which included three Europa League games throughout the 2014/2015 season.
[Image via Capital FM]