Fabrice Muamba has announced his retirement from football citing medical grounds. The midfielder, who collapsed on the pitch earlier this year, said that based on medical advice, he will not be able to continue his career. By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter.
Fabrice Muamba has retired from professional football at the age of 24 due to health concerns. The midfielder collapsed while playing for Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur last March. His heart stopped beating for 78-minutes and though he did make a miraculous recovery, coming back from the brink of death, he has now been forced to call time on his professional footballing career.
Throughout his convalescence, Muamba insisted that he would like to play again, but there were always doubts about his return to the game.
"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.
And while the 24-year old was understandably disappointed, he remains positive and expressed his gratitude once more to the medical team who helped him at White Hart Lane on that fateful day.
"While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for," Muamba is reported to have said. "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."
Muamba was taken to the London Chest Hospital after his dramatic collapse and support for him poured in from all around the world. He came to England from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as an 11-year old child after his father fled the war-torn country and sought asylum in the UK. Muamba joined Arsenal's youth ranks as a schoolboy, back in 2002 and signed his first professional contract in October 2005. He also played for England youth from the Under-16 to Under-21 levels. After a stint with Birmingham City, he joined Bolton Wanderers in 2008. Four years later he has been forced to cut short a promising career in football.
Last week a doctor in Belgium delivered the worst possible news for Muamba – confirming that he would not be able to pursue his footballing career any further.
"As part of my on-going recovery, last week I travelled to Belgium to seek further medical advice from a leading cardiologist,” Muamba explained.
"But 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."
The Bolton Wanderers backroom staff have expressed their support for Muamba, with chairman Phil Gartside saying: "To have Fabrice here and with us is truly amazing and we are all very thankful for that.
"We are all hugely disappointed that Fabrice will be unable to return to his playing career but we have to be guided by the medical recommendations and the best interests of Fabrice.
"The most important thing is that Fabrice and his family have the rest of their lives ahead of them."
Bolton boss, Owne Coyle was also supportive of the man at whose bedside he sat while his team ineffectually fought a relegation battle last season.
"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,” Coyle said.
"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." DM
Photo: Bolton Wanderers' Fabrice Muamba reacts ahead of their English Premier League soccer match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton, northern England, May 2, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Staples