Everton announced on Thursday that they had completed the signing of Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi from Aston Villa on loan till the end of the season, making him the third player to join the Merseysiders this January.
The Netherlands international had previously worn numbers 22 and 21 at Villa and 21 at Ajax before that. He has chosen to wear the number 34 as a tribute to his friend in the Ajax academy.
Former Ajax wonderkid Abdelhak Nouri will forever be cherished by fans and players alike after his heart-breaking collapse in a pre-season friendly against Werder Bremen back in 2017.
The Dutch youngster, just 20 at the time, was left with permanent brain damage after he suffered from a cardiac arrest which caused him to collapse on the pitch while playing.
A promising attacking midfielder, the Amsterdam native was unable to continue his playing career and requires intensive care round-the-clock, even today.
A number of his former teammates have worn their ever-smiling friend’s number 34 kit as a tribute since. When Appie’s close friend and Manchester United star Donny van de Beek donned the number at Old Trafford, Abdelhak’s father Mohammed explained how his son had ‘tears of joy’ on his cheeks at the news.
Several others, including Justin Kluivert, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Sandler have all remembered Nouri in their own way.
The latest among them is the new Everton signing Anwar El Ghazi, who will also don Nouri’s 34 at his new club to pay tribute to his former Ajax teammate.
El Ghazi improves Everton’s depth in the wide areas, and Appie is sure to be touched by this gesture every time he sees his former teammate bursting down the wings for the Blues.