Former Arsenal forward Marc Overmars has suffered ‘irreparable damage’ to his heart after suffering a cardiac arrest last month, according to reports in the Netherlands.
The Dutchman was hospitalised at the end of 2022 with what Royal Antwerp, Overmars’ employers, claimed was a ‘mild stroke’.
But De Telegraaf report that Overmars’ condition is significantly worst than first feared, as part of his heart muscle is no longer working as it should, and that the ability to pump blood around Overmars’ body is understood to have been reduced by 70% compared to normal capacity.
It’s unclear at this stage whether Overmars will recover, though he was recently quoted by Dutch media that he needed to ‘take it easy and move forward one step at a time’.
Overmars is well known to football fans not only in the Netherlands, but also because of his stints as a player in England and Spain.
He burst onto the scene during the mid-1990s after Louis van Gaal signed him to Ajax, and he was part of the side that won three successive Eredivisie titles and the Champions League in 1995.
Legendary former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger then signed Overmars for in June 1997, with the Dutchman arriving in north London for a fee reported to be between £5m and £7m.
Overmars’ blistering pace on the left wing and ability with both feet took the Premier League by storm, and he was a key figure as the club achieved a Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998 – he scored twice in the 4-0 win over Everton that sealed the title and also against Newcastle in the cup final at Wembley.
A move to Barcelona followed in 2000, but Overmars’ career in Spain was ruined by a persistent knee injury. He retired as a player at the age of 31 before launching a one-season comeback with Go Ahead Eagles in 2008.
Overmars became a Director of Football at Ajax in 2012, but resigned his position in February last year after admitting to sending inappropriate messages to a female colleague. He joined Royal Antwerp a month later in a similar capacity.