Stricken Muamba unites game

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba remains in a critical condition as he fights for his life following his cardiac arrest at Tottenham.

Muamba remains in intensive care after medical staff required two hours to get the 23-year-old’s heart beating on its own following his collapse during Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final clash.

With the football world united in their anxiety over the popular former England Under-21 star, old team-mate Gary Cahill led the tributes.

Cahill played with Muamba for two-and-a-half years before leaving Bolton for Chelsea in January.

The bond between the pair remains strong and after scoring in Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Leicester at Stamford Bridge yesterday, Cahill revealed a T-shirt with the message ‘Pray 4 Muamba’ printed on it.

It is a message that has been repeated by so many since Saturday night as concern for Muamba’s condition continued.

Supporters at Wolves’ home game with Manchester United combined in a minute’s applause before kick-off.

A detailed statement, released jointly by Bolton and the London Chest Hospital yesterday lunchtime, brought good news in the sense that Muamba’s heart was working again.

“Fabrice Muamba remains in a critical condition in intensive care in the Heart Attack Centre at The London Chest Hospital,” read the statement. “He was admitted to the hospital [on Saturday] evening after collapsing at White Hart Lane, where he sustained a cardiac arrest during the FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham.

“Fabrice received prolonged resuscitation at the ground and en route to The London Chest Hospital, where his heart eventually started working. As is normal medical practice, Fabrice remains anaesthetised in intensive care and will be for at least 24 hours.

“His condition continues to be closely monitored by the cardiac specialists at the hospital.”

As a steady stream of supporters headed to the Reebok Stadium to lay flowers and offer their support to Muamba, the former Arsenal and Birmingham player was visited by members of his family yesterday morning and Bolton officials and players, including manager Owen Coyle, and other famous footballing names later.

Coyle had accompanied the midfielder to hospital on Saturday along with club captain Kevin Davies.

“From our end, and on behalf of the family, we want to say a big thanks to everyone,” said Coyle. “We have been inundated by goodmessages, everyone praying for Fabrice which is very important. It has been a real source of strength for the family. I can’t really quantify it [the support]. It has been incredible, not just from the football world, from everyone.

“It is great to be talented at football but it’s more important to be a genuinely nice man and everyone recognises Fabrice is that.

“That has pulled everyone together. We certainly hope he comes through this. If he pulls through it would be marvellous, it really would.”

The Premier League have quickly agreed to Bolton’s request for tomorrow night’s planned encounter with Aston Villa at Villa Park to be postponed.

No new date has been confirmed and it is still not clear when Saturday night’s abandoned game will be played.

Bolton are due to face Blackburn at home on Saturday, although no decision will be made until much later in the week about whether that match can proceed.

“It was the right decision to abandon the game,” said Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. “Everybody was in a state of shock and it wouldn’t have been right to carry on.

“Football is the last thing on anyone’s mind when an awful situation such as this happens. All we are thinking about now is Fabrice and his family.”

Referee Howard Webb, whose prompt actions on Saturday night, in addition to those of medical staff at White Hart Lane, withdrew from fourth official duties at Wolves on the advice of a psychologist who works with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited.

This is not the first time Bolton have been at the centre of such a terrible incident. In 2004, former Senegal international Khalilou Fadiga collapsed prior to a Carling Cup tie with Tottenham at the Reebok Stadium.

Fadiga had to be fitted with a defibrillator due to an irregular heartbeat and despite initial reservations, was eventually able to resume his career, although he never reached the levels he had been at previously.


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