Heart victim Muamba was in line for Olympic call-up
22:16 GMT, 24 March 2012
00:37 GMT, 25 March 2012
Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton midfielder
who suffered a cardiac arrest while playing at Tottenham last weekend,
was being lined up as one of Stuart Pearce's 'over-age' players for the
Great Britain football team at this summer's London Olympics.
The 23-year-old Bolton midfielder was
one of the players sent a letter by the FA to put him 'on notice' that
he could be going to the Games.
London calling: Fabrice Muamba was closer than most to a place in the Olympics
But unlike many of the 191 English,
Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish footballers who were told that they
could make the cut, Muamba was closer than most to a call-up.
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Sources point out that Zaire-born
player, who arrived in England when he was 11 as a political refugee,
holds the third-highest number of England Under-21 caps, having played
at that level 33 times.
And it was telling that the FA's
statement by chairman David Bernstein in the immediate aftermath of
Muamba's collapse last week, highlighted that he is 'a player, and more
importantly, a person, we care greatly for'.
Muamba's easy manner and ability to help bond any dressing room have been highlighted by team-mates and friends over the past week, and his diplomacy as well as his experience as a seasoned Under-21 international are understood to have made him a serious contender for one of three 'over-age' places in the 18-man squad.
It is widely believed that Pearce will select David Beckham for one over-age slot, and perhaps Ryan Giggs for another, leaving the third wide open.
With Muamba still in intensive care and his sporting future uncertain, the FA will make every effort to accommodate him as a visitor to Britain's Olympic fixtures, promising privately to get him all the tickets he wants.
'He can have a whole stand, bless him,' said one source.
Titanic row brewing over tennis stars who survived the disaster
Five famous sportsmen were on board the Titanic when it sank 100 years ago on April 15, 1912, although their stories are unlikely to be given much attention during the eponymous ITV drama series, which starts on Sunday evening.
Two were Welsh boxers, Dai Bowen and Leslie Williams, and both perished in third class.
A third Briton, world champion squash player Charles Williams, survived.
And then there were two American tennis players, both Wimbledon stars in their time, whose fates following their escape from the disaster are still causing controversy a century on because of a bust-up over the depiction of their rivalry in a new book, Titanic: The Tennis Story, to be published in Britain next week.
Survivors: Dick Norris Williams (left) and Karl Behr
Dick Norris Williams was 21 when the ship sank but survived and went on to win two US Open singles titles and various Slam doubles, including at Wimbledon.
Compatriot Karl Behr, 26, had been a Wimbledon doubles runner-up and was later a Davis Cup winner with his fellow survivor.
The book, by American Lindsay Gibbs, is being marketed in Britain as a 'work of historical fiction' but scenes which the author admits were 'fictionalised for dramatic effect' have upset Behr's grand-daughter, Lynn Sanford.
In those scenes, Behr helps to save Williams's frozen legs from amputation on the night of the sinking then, two years later, after losing in a US Open quarter-final to Williams, Behr is quoted as saying: 'I should have let them cut off your legs.'
Sanford tells me: 'I just cannot tell you how much the fabrication in this book upsets me. There is no evidence any of this happened.'
Sanford had her own book, Starboard at Midnight, published last year, telling the story of how her sporting ancestor courted and married her grandmother, Helen Newsom, also a Titanic survivor.
Samba caught up in race row farce
Former Blackburn centre-half Chris Samba's introduction to the racist tendencies of some Russian football fans has not been helped by the reaction of the authorities.
Race row: Chris Samba
Samba, 27, who joined billionaire-backed Anzhi Makhachkala, managed by Guus Hiddink, in February for about 12million, was subjected to banana-throwing in a match against Lokomotiv Moscow.
At first, Lokomotiv's president, Olga Smorodskaya, claimed the incident was a set-up to discredit her club, while Russia's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said he could name 'dozens of countries where this happens'.
But after an international outcry over the incident – and questions about the suitability of Russia as host nation for the 2018 World Cup – a task force to tackle racism was launched and Smorodskaya denounced the 'absolute scum' who threw the banana.