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Former football professional Khalid Boulahrouz: ‘Teammate Puerta’s death left a deep impression’

20 January 2017

Former Feyenoord player Khalid Boulahrouz lost his teammate Antonio Puerta to cardiac arrest in the Spanish city of Sevilla in 2007. Although the defensive player, just arrived from England, was still on the side-lines, it made a deep impression.

Inconsolable

It turned out Antonio had been having problems for a while, but I didn’t know at the time. I didn’t know his history. Some team members had been playing with him for a long time. Four days after that match, when we got the message they were pulling the plug, those boys were inconsolable.

Emotions, tears, silence

It was dramatic. Emotions, tears, silence. You wake up with it, and fall asleep with it. And you start to wonder if your own heart can handle the heavy burden of professional sports.

Cardiac arrest

Certain things in life are more important than winning three points in a football match. Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone. Yourself, your loved one, or people around you. After Antonio had been struck by cardiac arrest, I asked myself: what do I do when someone falls down in front of me? Sadly, I couldn’t answer that question.

First responder

Through Feyenoord and the Dutch Heart Foundation, I was given the chance to call on as many people as possible to sign up as first responder. That is what I did. Because it is incredibly important to have this in your arsenal; it can save people’s lives.