FOX Soccer Exclusive
Muamba’s state evokes grim memories
As of 6 p.m. ET, Muamba was in intensive care in hospital’s heart attack care center. Bolton released a brief statement confirming Muamba’s condition and asking for the player’s privacy to be respected.
Muamba, just weeks shy of turning 24, collapsed with no other player around him late in the first half of the game at White Hart Lane.
The Zaire-born midfielder — now called the Democratic Republic of Congo — suffered a cardiac incident at midfield. Play was immediately halted, and medics worked to resuscitate him on the field as players and fans watched, gravely concerned.
Reports from the tunnel indicate that Muamba had received defibrillation and had stopped breathing. Muamba was on oxygen as he was taken through the tunnel to a waiting ambulance, and it believed the quick work of the White Hart Lane medical staff saved the young man’s life.
Several players were seen praying around Muamba and members of both teams left the field in tears. Referee Howard Webb, visibly shocked, swiftly abandonded the game. Webb’s calm handling of the situation has drawn praise tonight as well.
Muamba’s struggle rocketed around social media, and prayers for him poured in from across the globe and from all walks of life. Everton midfielder Tim Cahill tweeted: “This is now a day when football across the World comes together to pray for Muamba. Puts everything into perspective.”
Wayne Rooney tweeted that he was “in shock” and many players asked for the world to pray for him tonight. Tweeted Kyle Walker: “Doesn’t matter who you support. Doesn’t matter if you aren’t a football fan. Doesn’t matter if you aren’t religious. Pray for Fabrice Muamba.”
Muamba’s collapse evoked grim memories of the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the untimely passing of Cameroon’s Marc-Vivien Foe during a game against Colombia. In that semifinal game, with no other players about him, Foe suddenly fell to the ground. Foe was taken to hospital, but passed away a short time later.
Foe was later found to have an undiagnosed heart condition involving the thickening of the myocardium. His death spurred football organizations around the world, including the Premier League, to begin screening for heart ailments.
Muamba, a popular figure and well known from his time at both Arsenal and Birmingham City, has become a stalwart at Bolton under manager Owen Coyle. A naturalized English citizen, he has captained the English U-21 side and is considered a player for the future on the English national team.
The FA released a statement from David Bernstein that read, in part: “On behalf of The FA, I would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Fabrice Muamba and his family this evening. Fabrice has played 33 times for England Under-21s, captaining Stuart Pearce's side during this time and is a player, and more importantly, a person we care greatly for.”
Muamba still faces a lengthy recovery, and it is still unclear what caused this incident.
However, tonight, the football world is praying for one of its own. All of us at FOX Soccer wish to send our best wishes and prayers to Muamba’s family and teammates.
Jamie Trecker is the senior editor for FOXSoccer.com covering the UEFA Champions League and the Barclays Premier League.