Mertens dies after collapsing on pitch
Lokeren defender Gregory Mertens has died three days after collapsing during a reserve match, his club have announced.
The 24-year-old lost consciousness in the first half of a meeting with Genk on Monday night and was initially attended to by both the Lokeren and the Genk medical staff before he was transported to hospital.
But yesterday Lokeren confirmed the player had died, through a statement on their official website.
It read: "Today something happened which no one could ever dare to predict. Much too soon, we are saying goodbye to Gregory Mertens.
"We are a football club. Everyone in and around the club lives and breathes football. But suddenly something happens which makes us realise football is just football. Today is such a time."
The Pro League club revealed heart failure had been the cause of Mertens' collapse and paid tribute to medical staff who had tried to save his life.
The statement continued: "Despite the good medical care of our own sports staff and colleagues in Genk, it soon appeared the situation was very serious.
"Gregory was revived on the field and transferred to the hospital in Genk. Medical staff have done everything they could to save Gregory, but they finally had to acknowledge their impotence.
"Today, Gregory died at around 1630 (local time). His family were able to say goodbye."