MARYANNE ORR / AIPS in UTRECHT: For two minutes of the UEFA Women’s EURO opener between Netherlands and Norway thoughts were not on football.

The sea of orange created a wave at the Stadion Galgenwaard, as 21,732 supporters wearing their team colours took to their feet to show support and appreciation for two members of the Dutch football community.

Sylvia Nooij, a defender who played six times for the national side, died at 32 a week before the start of competition. The former national champion with Eredivisie club ADO Den Haag had suffered an epileptic seizure.

As a mark of respect the crowd applauded in the 32nd minute then remained standing to offer a further round of applause, two minutes later, for Abdelhak Nouri, known to fans a Appie. The midfielder at Eredivisie AFC Ajax collapsed while playing against Werder Bremen in Austria from heart irregularities and suffered severe and irreversible brain damage.

Nouri has been in the thoughts of football players and fans all over the world and as the applause in the 34 th minute, his shirt number, came to an end, a handmade banner emerged with a message urging football to “Pray for Appie.”

Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema, who plays her club football with Arsenal, said later: “It is amazing that the whole crowd done that. Both players totally deserve it [for fans] to stand and think about everything that’s happened. Some girls knew Nooij and Appie, and it has been a hard week for us.”