Belgian goalkeeper Arne Espeel has died aged 25 after reportedly collapsing following a penalty save during a match on Saturday.
Espeel had played for Winkel Sport B which plays in the second provincial division of West Brabant in Belgium.
According to reports in Belgian media, including Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Winkel Sport B was 2-1 ahead against Westrozebeke at the team’s home ground in Sint-Eloois-Winkel in the Belgian province of West Flanders when in the second half, the opposition was awarded a penalty.
Espeel saved the spot-kick, reportedly celebrating excitedly before collapsing immediately afterwards, reports Het Nieuwsblad.
Emergency services rushed onto the pitch to try to assist Espeel using a defibrillator, but he was pronounced dead shortly after.
According to Reuters, an autopsy was scheduled for Monday evening to determine the cause of Espeel’s death. The results have not been released.
Belgian media reported that Espeel’s younger brother Aaron was on the bench for the game.
Winkel Sport paid tribute to Espeel in a statement.
“Winkel Sport is in deep mourning due to the sudden death of Arne Espeel goalkeeper Winkel Sport B,” it said.
“We wish Arne’s family and friends our sincere deepest sympathy in this great loss. Football is an afterthought for now.”
More than 1,000 people paid tribute to Espeel in a memorial for the goalkeeper on Monday evening.
“This is a disaster and a shock to everyone,” Winkel manager Patrick Rotsaert told Het Nieuwsblad.
“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 ready to help. This is really a heavy blow. First of all for his family and also our entire club.”