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Career Ending - Fabrice Muamba

By: Stuart Tidman 11 Mar 2014 09:07:58

Career Ending - Fabrice Muamba

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Muamba came to England when his family emigrated here when he was aged just eleven, unable to speak English at the time. However, within a few short years he left school with fine academic qualifications, and an undeniable talent in Association Football. During his time at school, this talent did not go un-noticed and led to the young Muamba joining the Arsenal youth team upon leaving full-time education, and being noticed nationally too, as he represented England at Under 16 level. Upon graduation from the Gunners youth team as a young player full of promise and potential, he joined Championship club Birmingham City on a season-long loan in August 2006 to gain competitive match practice. Competition was extremely fierce for first team places at the Emirates, so this was quite a wise move. After a slow start, his energetic style of play, which has been likened to that of his hero, former France International Patrick Vieira, established him as a regular starter in central midfield. The fans were equally impressed, voting him their Birmingham City Young Player of the Season.

During this season, he progressed up the international ladder, making his debut for the England Under 21 side, and became a regular in Peter Taylor and then Stuart Pearce’s team for the next few seasons. In May 2007, Muamba made his move to Birmingham City permanent, signing a three-year contract with the West Midlands club. Muamba went on to make thirty-seven appearances as Birmingham were relegated from the Premier League after one season back in the top flight. That summer, the England Under 21 player joined Premier League Bolton Wanderers for a fee of £5 million, on a four-year contract. In recognition of his impressive 2009–10 season at the Lancashire club, he was named as The Bolton News Player of the Season. During the close season, Muamba signed a new four-year contract, tying himself at the Reebok for the next few seasons.

Things were going well for Muamba, with full England honours predicted in the near future. Then, completely unexpectedly on March 17th 2012, Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed during the first half of an FA Cup quarter-final match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. After receiving lengthy attention on the pitch from medical personnel – including a consultant cardiologist who was at the game as a fan – Muamba was taken to the specialist coronary care unit at the London Chest Hospital. Bolton manager Owen Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies accompanied Muamba in the ambulance to hospital. Understandably, the match was abandoned by referee Howard Webb, and Bolton's next game, against Aston Villa - due to be played three days later - was postponed at the club's request.

Bolton's club doctor later confirmed that Muamba had received numerous defibrillator shocks both on the pitch and in the ambulance, as his heart had stopped for seventy-eight minutes. The player was initially kept under anaesthetic in intensive care. Two days later, his heart was beating without medication and he was able to move his limbs. Later that day his condition was described as "serious" rather than "critical" and he was able to recognise family members and respond appropriately to questions. Four days after his heart attack, his consultant suggested that Muamba's progress had "exceeded our expectations" and that although he faced a "lengthy recovery period", "normal life is within the spectrum of possibility". Two weeks later, a photograph was released of Muamba sitting up in his hospital bed and smiling. The England International is un-indated with well-wishes from all over the world, most people finding the occurance unbelievable – how could that happen to a man so young and so physically fit? Muamba was discharged from hospital on April 16th, having been fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). He attended Bolton's home match against Tottenham Hotspur on May 2nd, where he expressed his gratitude for the support he had received.

On August 15th 2012, Bolton Wanderers announced that Muamba had retired from professional football, based on the recommendation of his medical team. Having to suddenly hang up his boots once and for all, Muamba became part of ITV's coverage of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. He was also a co-commentator alongside Derek Rae on BT Sport's coverage of the African World Cup qualification third round play-offs. Muamba is (as of December 2013) working towards a career in sports journalism, currently studying journalism at Staffordshire University. On Thursday 8 November 2012, Muamba returned to White Hart Lane for the first time since his cardiac arrest and received a standing ovation from the crowd. The former player gave a tearful farewell and thank you to the Tottenham supporters.

 


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