Manchester United’s new midfielder Donny van de Beek has said he will wear the number 34 on his jersey as a tribute to former Ajax Amsterdam team mate Abdelhak Nouri, who suffered brain damage after a heart attack in 2017.
Nouri, who also wore the number, made his senior debut in 2016-17 before his playing career ended prematurely after he suffered cardiac arrest in a pre-season friendly in Austria.
Despite being revived on the pitch and rushed to a hospital, Nouri suffered serious and permanent brain damage.
“This is a special thing for me because of my good friend Abdelhak Nouri,” Van de Beek, who joined United from Ajax on a five-year contract on Wednesday, told the club’s website.
“He had a heart attack… I’m really close with his family and his brother is one of my best friends and I talk a lot with them. So I decided to take his old number on my shirt and I want to get good memories with this number.”
Another Ajax academy graduate, Phillippe Sandler, also chose the number 34 after joining Manchester City in 2018.
Thoughts of Nouri are never far away from Van de Beek, who previously paid tribute to his friend after scoring in the 34th minute of a Champions League victory at Juventus last year.
Ajax, who had continued to pay Nouri after the incident, formally cancelled his contract in March.
Dutch media reported at the time that the club were in talks with Nouri’s family about a future solution for the player, who had been moved to a specially adapted room at home after years in hospital.