Ajax Dedicate 34th Eredivisie Title To Appie Nouri
Ajax's first Eredivisie title triumph for five years is made even more satisfying by the fact the players have achieved it in honour of their friend and teammate Appie Nouri.
In July 2017 in a pre-season friendly against Werder Bremen, Nouri collapsed on the pitch and was immediately treated by paramedics before being airlifted to hospital.
It was then revealed that 'Appie', who has been with Ajax since the age of nine, had suffered serious and permanent brain damage.
Nouri's brother, Abderrahim, confirmed that small progress had been made regarding his condition just over a year ago when speaking to NOS but the reality is that he will be able to play football again.
As per teammate Donny van De Beek, Nouri asked for #34 as his Ajax squad number because he wanted to win their 34th league title.
Unfortunately he never got to be part of the squad because of the tragic incident, but now that Erik ten Hag's side have won the Eredivisie following a 4-1 thrashing of De Graafschap on the final matchday last night, they've dedicated the success to him.
"Nouri has always been there [with Ajax]. It was terrible what happened," manager Ten Hag told Fox Sports after clinching the domestic double.
"It does something to a person. The boys were like family to him, that hurts incredibly much."
The Ajax squad sported tribute shirts to Nouri on the pitch last night, while his father gave an emotional speech at the today's celebrations in Amsterdam - with he and son Abderrahim
Daley Blind, in his second spell at Ajax, also stressed how much this title wins to everyone.
"I think it's wonderful for him and for his family," Blind said, as per Goal.
"This subject is an emotional one. A lot of guys have played several games with him. It's nice we can pay him back with the 34th title, that is something extra."
Those who played with him will continue to remember him during the course of their respective careers by wearing Nouri's Ajax squad number.
Philippe Sandler, who spent time with Nouri as a youngster in the Ajax youth academy, asked for #34 upon signing for Manchester City from PEC Zwolle as he wanted to honour him.
Philippe Sandler after his debut for City: "I made my debut with #34. I asked for it immediately when I arrived. It is a tribute to Appie, who I played with in the Ajax Youth for years. It is great that I can sympathize with him and his family in this way." :heart::three::four:#AN34 [AD] pic.twitter.com/D31ME5uHEu
- Ajax Youth Academy (@AjaxYA) January 6, 2019
Roma's Justin Kluivert, Napoli's Amin Younes and Fiorentina's Kevin Dijks are also paying tribute to their friend by wearing his number for their clubs.
The former went a step further by holding up a Roma shirt with 'Nouri #34' on the back when he scored his first Champions League goal for Roma in October, at the Stadio Olimpico.
Justin Kluivert has scored his first-ever Champions League goal :raised_hands:
He celebrated by paying tribute to former Ajax teammate Abdelhak Nouri :heart: pic.twitter.com/3liFmhA1rK
- Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 2, 2018
Ajax have a tribute display to him outside the megastore at the Johan Cruyff Arena, while they also renamed their young player of the year award after him and redesigned the trophy to mark his trademark celebration.