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Footballer dies three days after heart attack

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GREGORY-MERTENSBRUSSELS, April 30- The 24-year-old Belgian footballer Gregory Mertens has died three days after suffering a heart attack while playing for Lokeren’s reserves, hospital sources told the Belga news agency on Friday.

The defender had been in a critical state after collapsing on the field 20 minutes into a reserve game against Genk on Monday.

He was given emergency treatment on the pitch before being rushed to hospital where he was placed in an induced coma in an effort to save his life.

Mertens began his career at the country’s most successful club, Anderlecht, but moved to Lokeren in January last year from Cercle Bruges.

He had been capped several times by Belgium at under-21 level.

Belgium suffered the loss of another young talent in January this year when 20-year-old Junior Malanda of German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg died in a car crash.

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