By Helen Collis
Millions of fans feared for the worst when footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed unconscious on the pitch in a match last month.
Now making a full recovery, Muamba has spoken for the first time about the terrifying ordeal in which he says he 'died' for 78 minutes.
The Bolton midfielder, 24, insisted he had not felt unwell before his heart stopped and he crashed to the ground in the 41st minute of a televised FA Cup tie at Tottenham on March 17.
Miracle man: Fabrice Muamba with Dr Andrew Deaner, left, and Dr Sam Mohiddin
Muamba was effectively dead for over an hour and it took 15 defibrillator shocks - two on the pitch and 13 in the ambulance - to get his heart beating again.
Speaking to The Sun, he said: 'I ran upfield to try and get on the end of a cross from Martin Petrov on our left wing and as I ran back into midfield I felt very slightly dizzy.
'It wasn't a normal dizziness - it was a kind of surreal feeling like I was running along inside someone else's body.
'Then I made another burst forward and noticed it again. Then my vision started to go. I had no pain whatsoever. No clutching at my chest.Then I started to see double. It felt almost like a dream. There was no one anywhere near me when I started to feel myself falling
'The last thing I remember was our defender Dedryck Boyata screaming at me to get back and help out in defence. I just felt myself falling then I felt two thumps as my head hit the ground in front of me then that was it. Blackness, nothing. I was dead.'
Terrifying: Muamba lies prostrate as players and medics try to help
Muamba told the newspaper he believed his survival was thanks to his prayers to God, saying: 'What happened to me was really more than a miracle.'
He revealed how he had asked God for protection before the match, while on the phone to his father - something he said he does before every game.
And in the latest twist in his remarkable recovery, Muamba hopes to make an emotional return to Bolton’s Reebok Stadium on May 2, when his team-mates will be facing Tottenham.
Now back home after an extraordinary fight for his life in the London Chest Hospital, the former England Under 21 international - born in Zaire but raised in Britain from the age of 11 after his family fled their homeland as political refugees - hopes he will be able to attend one of Bolton’s two remain remaining home games.
Those games are against Spurs in a Wednesday evening kick-off on May 2 or West Bromwich Albion four days later.
Nightmare: Concern is etched on faces of players and Bolton manager Owen Coyle
While Bolton fans will not want him to do anything that could jeopardise his recovery, an emotional appearance at the game against Spurs would be inspirational for a club facing the prospect of losing their Premier League status.
Muamba, who moved to The Reebok from Birmingham City in 2008, and Bolton have been overwhelmed by the messages of support that have flooded in to the club from around the world.
The player’s dramatic collapse in front of television cameras covering Bolton’s FA Cup quarter-final at White Hart Lane live touched the emotions of people with no interest in the game of football.
They followed every turn in his fight for life and rejoiced when a picture of a smiling Muamba was posted on the player’s Twitter account.
Muamba has revealed he asked God to protect him before the cup clash, which was abandoned after his collapse.
He told The Sun: 'Someone up there was watching over me. What happened to me was really more than a miracle. On the morning of the game I prayed with my father and asked God to protect me - and he didn't let me down.
Emotional: Some players were in tears as Muamba was carried off
'I am walking proof of the power of prayer. For 78 minutes I was dead and even if I lived was expected to have suffered brain damage. But I'm very much alive and sitting here talking now. Some one up there was watching over me.'
Doctors have since fitted a mini-defibrillator in his chest in case he suffers a similar attack. It has left a three-inch scar on his chest.
Muamba added: 'It was weird. I was conscious when they fitted my chest with the defibrillator wired to my chest. And I was so relaxed I fell asleep.
'I can feel a metal plate under my skin in my chest above my heart so it feels like I've got two hearts instead of one.'
A thank you cake that was delivered to the medical staff at the London Chest Hospital from Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch during a game against Tottenham
He is now being closely monitored and the club have made it clear that any decision to attend a home game will entirely depend on Muamba and the state of his health.
But sources said: ‘It is possible he will be able to come to a match this season, sooner rather than later.’
Skipper Kevin Davies added: ‘The lads are buzzing about the great news of Fab being discharged from hospital. We know he has a long way to go in his recovery but we are all looking forward to seeing him again, sooner rather than later.’
Bolton manager Owen Coyle said he has spoken to Muamba in the last 48 hours.
‘It was great to hear him in such an upbeat mood,’ he said. ‘You could tell by his voice he seems in a very good place.'
Sunday, April 22, 2012
‘I felt dizzy, I felt myself falling’: Back from the dead footballer Fabrice Muamba relives the terrifying moment he collapsed on the pitch
By Helen Collis