Footballer critical after on-field collapse
Bolton's Fabrice Muamba faces "crucial 24 hours" after suffering heart attack during English club's match at Tottenham.
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2012 17:20
Players and fans were horrified as attempts were made to resuscitate the midfielder [Reuters]

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba remained in a critical condition on Sunday after suffering a cardiac arrest and collapsing during an FA Cup match at Tottenham that was later abandoned on Saturday.

Bolton said in a statement on Sunday that the 23-year-old player's heart "started working again'' at a London hospital on Saturday night.

The former England under-21 player fell face-down to the pitch near the halfway line during Saturday's FA Cup match and medics rushed onto the pitch to begin resuscitating him.

Releasing more details of Muamba's condition, Bolton said that Muamba remains "in a critical condition'' in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital's heart attack unit.

"Fabrice received prolonged resuscitation at the ground and on route to the London Chest Hospital, where his heart eventually started working,'' Bolton said in a joint statement with the hospital.

"As is normal medical practice, Fabrice remains anesthetized in intensive care and will be for at least 24 hours. His condition continues to be closely monitored by the cardiac specialists at the hospital.''

Muamba's heart attack prompted an outpouring of support and a warning from former footballer turned TV pundit Stan Collymore, who urged followers on Twitter on Saturday night to report anyone making racist remarks - an ongoing problem in FA football - about Muamba.

On Sunday, a 21-year-old man from south Wales was arrested after allegedly doing just that. South Wales Police say the man wrote racially offensive comments and is being held in custody in Swansea Central.

Crucial 24 hours

Bolton manager Owen Coyle was joined by club officials and club captain Kevin Davies at the hospital.

Coyle told Sky Sports early on Sunday that the next 24 hours would be crucial for the 23-year-old midfielder, who collapsed on the pitch during the first half of Saturday's FA Cup clash.

Medics performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and attempted to revive him with a defibrilator, pumping his chest for about six minutes before rushing him to hospital in an oxygen mask.

"Fabrice is critically ill. The next 24 hours are going to be absolutely crucial,'' said Coyle, who accompanied the player to hospital.

"It's very serious. There's not getting away from that. He's critically ill and God willing he makes it through."

Match abandoned

Saturday's quarter-final match was abandoned after Muamba was carried off on a stretcher, with several players and supporters visibly distressed by the incident.

Fabrice Muamba represented England at the European Under-21 championships last year [GALLO/GETTY]

Bolton teammate Stuart Holden, who was watching the game on television, wrote on Twitter: "waiting anxiously for updates from teammates. Fab is a fighter!"

Arsenal defender Johan Djourou, a former teammate said on Twitter he had visited Muamba on Saturday night.

"Just left the hospital," he said. "Love you so much man! Keep fighting. Everybody please pray for him he's an amazing man and friend."

Muamba was born in what was then called Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in April 1988.

His father left the country because of political turmoil and settled in England, and Muamba joined Arsenal's youth academy in 2002.

He made his debut at age 17 on October 25, 2005, in the League Cup at Sunderland, and was loaned to Birmingham the following season.

The loan was made permanent in May 2007, and he made his English Premier League debut for Birmingham in 2007, before moving to Bolton in 2008.

Muamba has been part of England's youth team system and was a member of its team at last year's European Under-21 Championship, when he came on as a substitute against Ukraine and started against the Czech Republic.

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