Pray for him: Bolton's Muamba fighting for his life after collapsing on the pitch
10:58 GMT, 18 March 2012
Tottenham’s FA Cup tie against Bolton was dramatically called off when Trotters midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed in the centre of the White Hart Lane pitch after suffering a suspected heart attack in front of 36,000 fans and a television audience of a million.
The 23-year-old, who was reported to have stopped breathing, received cardio-resuscitation treatment from doctors and paramedics as shocked and distressed players from both sides looked on.
Shock: Owen Coyle and players from both sides show their concern for Fabrice Muamba
Some of them were in tears, others openly prayed while Muamba, an England Under 21 player who had arrived in Britain as an 11-year-old when his father was granted asylum after earlier fleeing as a political refugee from their native Democratic Republic of Congo, fought for his life.
After 10 minutes of treatment, Muamba was carried from the field on a stretcher and rushed to the London Chest Hospital, where he was still being treated late on Saturday night.
Horror: Benoit Assou-Ekotto, William Gallas, Carlo Cudicini and Coyle look on
A statement from Bolton said: ‘Fabrice is currently in a critically ill condition in intensive care.’
Muamba’s collapse in the 41st minute went largely unnoticed by the majority of the supporters in the stadium. He had not been involved in a collision, no other player was near him and he was moving into position for a goal-kick when he collapsed.
In action: Muamba (left) completes with Rafael van der Vaart at White Hart Lane
As it quickly became clear that the problem was of the utmost seriousness, Bolton and Spurs players, including Rafael van der Vaart and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, gestured desperately to the bench for immediate treatment.
Bolton physio Andy Mitchell rushed to Muamba’s aid and he was joined by doctors and CPR staff as it became apparent that the situation was life-threatening.
Stunned: Van der Vaart is lost in prayer
Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, joined the medical teams near the centre circle while players and staff from both teams gathered on the touchline near the dugout, consoling one another. Some, including Dedryck Boyota and Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe, were in tears.
Bolton fans chanted Muamba’s name in a gesture of support and they were joined by Tottenham fans as the gravity of the situation became clear.
After 10 minutes of treatment, Muamba was put on a stretcher and CPR continued as he left the pitch to sustained applause.
He was taken to hospital, Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies travelling with him.
Quick to react: With Muamba floored, referee Howard Webb immediately called on medical staff
A distressed Scott Parker, the Tottenham captain, appeared to tell World Cup referee Howard Webb that the game could not continue. Shortly afterwards Webb, who also spoke to Coyle and Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, took the players to the dressing rooms and within 10 minutes fans were told that the game had been abandoned.
The announcement was met with restrained applause as the crowd began to depart. Those in the West Stand, which adjoins the main entrance at White Hart Lane, were asked to wait while the ambulance carrying Muamba departed.
Comfort: Gareth Bale gives Jermain Defoe – a close friend of Muamba's – a show of support
As fans left the stadium, an eerie silence descended on the ground. The desperate scenes evoked memories Marc-Vivian Foe, who died after suffering a heart attack while playing for Cameroon in the 2003 Confederations Cup.
FIFA, the world governing body, subsequently introduced compulsory heart screening before tournaments and in 2005 doctors headed by FIFA medical chief Michel D’Hooghe wrote a report on the syndrome and made further recommendations to prevent fatalities.
Stunned spectators: White Hart Lane emptied in silence
Muamba, who was born in Kinshasa, the capital of what was then Zaire, came to London as an 11-year-old in 1999. Five years earlier, his father, Marcel, had fled their homeland to escape attack by political opponents as the country plunged into civil war.
The young Fabrice grew up in Walthamstow, just a few miles from the Tottenham ground, and was signed by Arsenal as a schoolboy. He represented England at every age level up to Under-21 and was loaned to Birmingham City before joining them on a permanent basis. He switched to Bolton in 2008 in a 5million move.
Previous clubs: Muamba in action for Arsenal (left) and Birmingham
Football rallied in support of Muamba. Spurs midfielder Van der Vaart said on Twitter: ‘Terrible what happened with Muamba. We’re all praying for him.’
England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who played with Muamba in Arsenal and England youth teams and during a loan spell at Bolton, wrote: ‘Hope Muamba is OK. Thoughts with him.’
FA chairman David Bernstein said: ‘I would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Fabrice Muamba and his family.’ Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore praised ‘the compasion shown by the fans’ of both sides.
The game was level at 1-1 when it was called off, following Gareth Bale’s own goal which Kyle Walker cancelled out in the 11th minute.
We could not go on! Players, officials and fans in shock after Muamba collapses
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Pain: Bolton's Ivan Klasnic is distraught as Muamba receives treatment
England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who
played alongside Muamba at Bolton, posted a message saying: 'Hope
Muamba is OK. Thoughts with him.'
defender Justin Hoyte, who played in the Arsenal youth team with
Muamba, used Twitter to say: 'I seriously hope my best friend in
football is OK. Stay strong bro [sic], please please stay strong. God is
with you remember that.'
There were scores of other players sending their best wishes, too, as the world of football united to pray for the player.
Wayne Rooney, Vincent Kompany, Emmanuel Adebayor and Michael Owen were among those who were desperate to send their best wishes.
Other high-profile sports stars also posted similar sentiments, with Wales and Great Britain athlete Dai Greene, top golfer Lee Westwood and England cricketer Graeme Swann just three big names among the growing list.
The subject of most of the messages, which is usually added after a hashtag at the end of each post, was '#PrayForMuamba' and became a worldwide trend on the microblogging site.
In Italy, Andrea Pirlo dedicated Juventus's 5-0 win over Fiorentina to Muamba. 'We pray he gets well soon,' he said.
When a topic trends it is a clear sign it is something that has been mentioned by thousands of people.