After five hope-filled months, Fabrice Muamba yesterday conceded defeat in his admirable battle to play professional football again.
Muamba stunned the football world on March 17 when he suddenly collapsed and lay face down on the turf during Bolton’s FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham.
The former England Under-21 midfielder was given 15 electric shocks on the pitch as paramedics tried to revive him and doctors later revealed the 24-year-old’s heart had stopped beating for a staggering 78 minutes.
Yet despite the serious nature of his condition, the former Arsenal and Birmingham man left hospital a month later and was determined to play football again.
Bolton wanted to make sure Muamba would not endanger his health by returning to action and sent him to Belgium to see world-renowned cardiologist Dr Pedro Brugada.
Dr Brugada told Muamba it was impossible for him to play again as his heart wall was not contracting properly, and the Bolton man therefore had no other option than to hang up his boots.
“Since suffering my heart attack and being discharged from hospital, I have remained utterly positive in the belief I could one day resume my playing career and play for Bolton Wanderers once again,” Muamba said.
“As part of my on-going recovery, last week I travelled to Belgium to seek further medical advice from a leading cardiologist.
“The news I received was obviously not what I had hoped it would be and it means I am now announcing my retirement from professional football.
“Football has been my life since I was a teenage boy and it has given me so many opportunities.
“Above all else, I love the game and count myself very lucky to have been able to play at the highest level.
“While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for.
“I thank God that I am alive and I pay tribute once again to the members of the medical team who never gave up on me. I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career, and the Bolton fans who have been incredible.
“I am blessed to have the support of my family and friends at this time.”
Although he knows he will not be able to pull on a Bolton shirt again, Muamba could take on some kind of ambassadorial role at the npower Championship club.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle, who accompanied Muamba to the London Chest Hospital straight after the incident, and was a regular visitor throughout his stay, added: “We have spoken with Fab and he knows we will always support him in whatever he wants to do and that we will always be here for him. He is obviously massively disappointed that he won’t be able to carry on his career, but everyone has seen what a fighter and strong person he is in mind and body.
“We know that he will go on to achieve great things and within all this disappointment, the most important thing is that he is here, alive, today.”
Messages of sympathy came in for the player yesterday after the news of his retirement broke.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter: “Have just read about your retirement. It’s very sad for you and I wish you all the very best.”
Former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas said: “Very sad to hear that Fabrice Muamba has to retire from football. I really wish the best for him. Top lad! £keepstrong.”
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