Belgian footballer Arne Espeel dies while playing for Winkel Sport B

  • Belgian goalkeeper Arne Espeel died while playing for Winkel Sport B
  • Espeel was in action against Westrozebeke when he collapsed after saving a penalty
  • Tributes were planned for the popular 25-year-old goalkeeper this week

Belgian goalkeeper Arne Espeel has tragically died while playing for Winkel Sport B.

Espeel, 25, was in action for his side, who play in the second provincial division of West Brabant in Belgium, against Westrozebeke at Winkel Sport’s home stadium in Sint-Eloois-Winkel, province of West Flanders.

Winkel Sport led 2-1 before Westrozebeke was awarded a penalty in the second half.

Espeel saved the penalty with a fine stop before suddenly collapsing on the pitch and instantly falling to the ground.

Emergency services kept running to help Espeel and did everything possible to save him using a defibrillator also used, but the 25-year-old was pronounced dead shortly after he was taken to hospital.

Belgium goalkeeper Arne Espeel died after collapsing on the pitch in action for Winkel Sport B against Westrozebeke – just seconds after saving a penalty
Winkel Sport plays its home games at Sportpark Terschueren in the province of West Flanders

An autopsy was due to take place on Monday, although Espeel’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Following the tragedy, the Belgian club issued a statement which said: “Winkel Sport is deeply saddened by the sudden death of goalkeeper Arne Espeel.

“We wish Arne’s family and friends our deepest condolences on this great loss. Football is taking a back seat for a while.”

Winkel Sport B assistant Stefaan Dewerchin added: “The ball was still in play. Our goalkeeper got up as fast as he could to get the ball but then he fell.

“It was really awful to watch. All players showered together after the incident. When the news broke that our goalkeeper was dead, it was an unusually heavy blow.

“I think some players still don’t know exactly what happened.”

The club’s sporting director Patrick Rotsaert explained how difficult the news was for the club.

He told Flemish outlet Het Nieuwsblad: “It’s a tragedy and a shock for us. Arne was at the club all his life and he was loved very much. It’s a really hard hit.’

Club members, along with Espeel fans, family and friends, planned to take a walk through the streets of Sint-Eloois-Winkel in West Flanders on Monday to pay tribute to the late goalkeeper’s life.

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