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Thoughts continue to be with Muamba
FOX Soccer's lead analyst reflects on the latest news in and around English soccer.
It’s been a difficult week in the soccer world, and first and foremost our thoughts and prayers go out to Fabrice Muamba and his family. What happened yesterday puts everything into perspective, and I can tell you that it hit everyone here on the broadcast team very hard.
I don’t think I will ever forget those images. Yes, the game is important, but the health of a young man is far, far beyond that. Many of my friends know Fabrice personally, and they all talk about him as a terrific young man with a great attitude about life and about the game. This has been a shock to everyone.
Football is a big community around the world, and I am gratified to see everyone come together through all the tributes we have seen for this young man. We saw Gary Cahill today at Chelsea, and it was super to hear Andrea Pirlo at Juventus also dedicated their game today to Fabrice. That is how big this sport can be.
I was also very heartened to see the supporters’ reactions at White Hart Lane, and how supportive they were to the young man. This was an instance that had so much impact on everyone - on the field and the stands. If there is a positive, it is seeing how everyone there showed so much respect.
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White Hart Lane’s medical team has to be thanked. I believe they saved Fabrice’s life. I think Howard Webb also has to be thanked. He is an experienced referee, and he acted swiftly in a horrendously difficult moment. He made the right decisions, and focused everything where it should be: on the health and well-being of this young man.
It’s difficult to express how something like this affects a team. I think you saw the outpouring of support from the men who have played with him — Jack Wilshere, Stuart Holden — and it’s clear that everyone has come together to try and do they best they can.
I have seen nasty injuries — broken legs, incidents where you fear for a man’s career — but never anything like this. I remember when Gary Mabutt had his cheekbone fractured in a game with us, actually also at White Hart Lane, and I can tell you when something like that happens, the immediate thoughts of everyone are on the player and his health.
You just know as a player when these things are serious. You are playing hard and you want to win a game, but you see something like this, you see the facial expressions on your teammates, and the switch goes off. It is always all about the health of the men. We saw those expressions on Saturday across all the players, and I do hope we never have to see it again.
Fernando Torres' Breakthrough
I do want to talk a little about football, even though it is very difficult at this time. The games did go on this week, and it was great to see Fernando Torres finally score. I have gone on record as saying that I don’t fully believe Torres’ long-term future is at Chelsea, and I might stand by that. But no one has ever wanted to see him suffer, and to his credit, he has kept plugging away. It’s great to see him get a reward.
I think what we are seeing is the knock-on effect from Chelsea’s massive win on Wedneasday and the lifting of some pressures with Andre Villas-Boas gone. Hopefully this will kick-start Torres, as I already feel it has his teammates. The difference between a great player and a good player is confidence. We’ve already seen that at this club in Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard, and now it might be Torres’ time. I am delighted for him.
Thanks as always for reading this week. As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @warrenbarton2 and ask questions at @FOXSoccer. And, again, all of us at FOX Soccer want to send our prayers and best wishes to Fabrice, his family and the club. I thank you for keeping him in your thoughts.
Former England international Warren Barton is the lead analyst for FOX Soccer Match Day, Goals on Sunday, and UEFA Champions League coverage.
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