Fabrice Muamba who was last seen carrying the Olympic torch from Greenwich to Waltham Forest on July 21st announced his retirement after his doctors advised him against returning to the sport.
Muamba, 24, collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest on 17 March during Bolton’s FA Cup quarter-final tie with Tottenham Hotspur. Muamba wrote:
“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.”
Muamba had travelled to Belgium earlier in the week to have minor heart surgery, which was said to have been routine and had no bearing on whether the player would return to action. But Muamba says he received advice during his time there, prompting his retirement.
“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 ongoing 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.”
Bolton manager Owen Coyle paid tribute to him and said the club will support him:
“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.”
Bolton chairman Phil Gartside also said he was simply thankful for Muamba being alive:
“To have Fabrice here and with us is truly amazing and we are all very thankful for that. The most important thing is that Fabrice and his family have the rest of their lives ahead of them.”
Bolton will let him choose between a variety of opportunities, ranging from club ambassador to a role in their education or community departments, although it is not yet clear whether his health will enable him to coach in future. The club are anxious to give Muamba as much time as he needs, however, and he is under no pressure to work, with early retirement cushioned by a substantial insurance payout and his own prudent financial planning.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter: “Have just read about your retirement. It’s very sad for you and I wish you all the very best.” Football Association chairman David Bernstein was also among the well-wishers, saying: “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.”