Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has opened up about how former Ajax teammate Abdelhak 'Appie' Nouri inspired him to join the Catalan giants.
It was announced on Thursday that Nouri has regained consciousness after being in a coma for nearly three years.
Nouri's brother, Abderrahim, recently shed light on the positive progress made by the former Ajax player after suffered a cardiac arrhythmia attack and collapsed on the pitch in 2017.
.@jupilerleague Player of the Season :point_right: Abdelhak Nouri! :ox:- AFC Ajax (English) (@AFCAjax_EN) May 16, 2017
Talent of the Season :point_right: Frenkie de Jong! :ox:
Proud of you lads! :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap: #AjaxReserves pic.twitter.com/JqCcQ3ZkNe
Shortly after the news emerged online, Frenkie de Jong spoke about Nouri during an emotional interview with Dutch TV.
De Jong spent several years playing alongside the 22-year-old at Ajax, and the pair became close friends during their time at the Dutch champions.
He even revealed that it was Nouri who played a big part in his move to Barcelona.
"[In 2019], I started to have doubts." De Jong told TV show De Wereld Draait Door.
"Then Appie's mother came in and asked him: 'Where should Frenkie go?' She named the clubs and said, 'Should he go to Barcelona?' Then Appie signalled with his eyebrows to agree. That was a very nice moment for me and the family."
In the interview, De Jong also spoke about how Nouri convinced him to join Ajax while he was playing for Willem II, despite an interest from PSV Eindhoven.
"I had decided that I would leave Willem II." De Jong continued.
"Then I happened to have a tournament in Greece with the Under-19's. Appie said to me: 'No, you have to come to Ajax. Then we can all play there. What are you going to do at PSV? Just come to Ajax.' He talked to me a lot."
When he was one of the best talents in the academy, Nouri convinced Frenkie de Jong to join Ajax instead of PSV.- Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) March 26, 2020
When he was deciding between PSG or Barça, Frenkie visited him. Nouri's mom asked him "Should he go to to Barça?"
Nouri raised his eyebrows to signal that he should.
Nouri's brother Abderrahim also spoke to Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door about his condition.
"He has not been home very long, we take care of him there now. I must say that since he is at home it is going much better than before in the hospital." he said.
"He is aware of where he is, he is back in a familiar environment with his family.
"He's no longer in a coma. He's very bedridden and still very dependent on us."
The two brothers are able to communicate through the raising of eyebrows and Nouri is also responsive to football on the television.
Nouri's brother: "Appie is doing good. He's at home now. He is aware of where he is. People will now wonder 'what does it mean, that he's doing good?'. Well, he is not in coma anymore, he is awake, he eats, he sneezes. Sometimes he can communicate by lifting his eyebrows." [dwdd] pic.twitter.com/IaUyHf6SEn- :gem: (@TheEuropeanLad) March 26, 2020
Abderrahim added: "On his good days there is a form of communication, for example, confirmation with his eyebrows or a smile. But you notice that he can't last that very long.
"We talk to him like he's not sick. We take him into our conversations and we watch football with him in the living room, for example. Then he watches. You notice that he likes that very much.
"He often shows emotions. Sometimes he is emotional, but often there is also a smile. That does us good. That makes you really appreciate a smile."
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