Gregory Mertens: Belgian footballer dies after collapsing on pitch

    (CNN)Belgian footballer Gregory Mertens, who collapsed on the pitch during a game on Monday, has died aged 24, with his club describing his passing away as having left "everyone in despair."

    A spokesman for the hospital confirmed to CNN that the Lokeren player died on Thursday at 16:30 CET.
    Mertens collapsed during Monday's reserve game at Genk and was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the scene.
      He was taken to hospital and placed on a life support machine and was placed in an induced coma.
        "Today something happened which no one could have dared imagine," said a statement on the club's website.
        "Much too early, we had to bid farewell to Gregory Mertens. We are a football club. Everyone in and around the club breathes football. But suddenly something happens which makes us realize that football is just football. Today is such a moment.
        "The medical team did everything possible to save Gregory, but they finally had to accept their powerlessness.
        "Today, around 16.30 Gregory passed away. The family was still able to say goodbye.
        "Everyone at Sporting Lokeren is in despair, both our young players and our pro team, the coaching staff, employees and the management -- they cannot believe this has happened.
        "Gregory was only with the club for one and a half years, but in that short time, with his quiet modesty, he made himself indispensable. We will now have to learn to live with this loss."
        Several famous figures within the world of football took to Twitter to offer their condolences including the coach of the Belgian national team Marc Wilmots.
        Mertens, who had played for Belgium at Under-21 level, began his career at Anderlecht before moving on to Lokeren via Cercle Brugge.
        On Wednesday, a spokesman for Genk hospital told CNN that Mertens' looked unlikely to improve.
        Speaking earlier this week, Lokeren's club doctor, Kris Peeters, said that Mertens suffered heart failure, though the exact cause remains unknown.
        He said that Mertens was an "elite sportsman" and that the situation was a "very difficult thing to accept and understand for many people."
          European governing body Uefa introduced mandatory cardiac testing for all players taking part in its competition in 2008 following the deaths of Marc-Vivien Foé, Antonio Puerta and Phil O'Donnell.