Bolton midfielder Muamba retires
Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba has announced his retirement from professional football, five months after suffering a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie.
Muamba, 24, collapsed on the pitch during a televised encounter between Bolton and Tottenham at White Hart Lane in March and the game was abandoned as medics fought to save his life.
The midfielder's heart stopped for 78 minutes before finally starting up again after prolonged resuscitation and following his arrival at the London Chest Hospital.
His plight shocked football but Muamba was discharged from hospital on April 16 after what was described as an "incredible" recovery.
He said he hoped to return to professional football, but following further surgery in Belgium last week doctors have informed the former England Under-21 international that he should not play again.
Muamba said: “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.
“As part of my on-going recovery, last week I travelled to Belgium to seek further medical advice from a leading cardiologist. 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.
“While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for. 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 arrived in England as a refugee from DR Congo at the age of 11 and joined Arsenal's youth academy in 2002. He made two appearances for the Gunners before joining Birmingham, initially on loan, in the summer of 2006.
A permanent move followed the next year when Muamba joined the Blues for £4 million but Bolton moved in the summer of 2008 and brought him to the Reebok Stadium for a fee of £5m.
Muamba made 148 appearances for Bolton, scoring four times.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle said: “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.
“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.
“We know that he will go on to achieve great things and within all this disappointment, the most important thing is that he is here, alive, today.”
Muamba represented England at several different youth levels, and earned 33 caps for the under-21 side.
FA chairman David Bermstein said: "On behalf of everybody at The FA I'd like to say how sorry we are to learn that Fabrice Muamba has had to end his professional football career.
"His recovery has been miraculous and a great tribute to all who have been involved.
"I would like to wish him the very best for the future and I know that the thoughts of the entire football family will be with him."