RKC goalkeeper Vaessen leaves hospital after knockout collision

RKC goalkeeper Etienne Vaessen is stretchered off the field in the 85th minute. Photo: ANP/Olaf Kraak

RKC Waalwijk goalkeeper Etienne Vaessen has left hospital after he was knocked out in a collision with Ajax striker Brian Brobbey near the end of the clubs’ match on Saturday.

Vaessen was taken off the field on a stretcher, covered in blankets, following the clash in the 85th minute of the match in Waalwijk. The match was abandoned 15 minutes later.

The 28-year-old regained consciousness several minutes later, but had no memory of the incident and spent a night under observation in hospital.

Club captain Michiel Kramer said Vaessen was recovering well. “I believe he had a reasonable night and he went home in the afternoon, so those are positive reports. Thankfully we can say things are going well,” he told NOS.

Erikssen and Nouri

The collapse of Vaessen on the pitch triggered memories of Christian Erikssen, the Danish defender who suffered heart failure during a World Cup match against Finland in 2021, and Appie Nouri, the Ajax midfielder who was left permanently brain damaged following a seizure during a pre-season match in 2017.

Club medics began resuscitating Vaessen immediately, under new procedures introduced in the wake of Nouri’s collapse, but officials later said the goalkeeper was knocked out by a blow to the head rather than a heart condition.

Ajax and RKC will now consult with the KNVB on how to deal with the unplayed five minutes of the match, which stood at 3-2 to Ajax when the players left the field.

It is the second weekend in a row that Ajax have been unable to finish an Eredivisie game, after crowd trouble forced the abandonment of the Klassieker against Feyenoord. That match was concluded behind closed doors in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

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