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Defying the odds: Fabrice Muamba’s journey from war torn Congo to the Premier League

By Simon Farnsworth

Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba fights for his life tonight in a North London hospital after collapsing on the pitch during this afternoon’s FA Cup quarter final against Tottenham Hotspur.

Medics spent 10 minutes trying to revive the former England under-21 international after he collapsed in the 41st minute of the cup clash.

The 23 year-old was then rushed to hospital and the match was abandoned.

A club statement released at 21.30 this evening said: “Bolton Wanderers can confirm that Fabrice Muamba has been admitted to The Heart Attack Centre at The London Chest Hospital where he is in a critically ill condition in intensive care.”

Muamba: “I saw the war. I saw people die. I grew up with it.”

Muamba moved to the UK from war torn Congo in 1999 when he was 11 years old.

In 2008 Muamba spoke to the Daily Mail where he talked of his upbringing amidst a civil war which killed nearly five million people.

He said: “It was very, very tough. I saw the war. I saw people die. I grew up with it. It was scary.

“I didn’t live far from the gunshots and the sound of them going off. It was difficult to get used to, especially hearing guns at night. It did have an effect on me.

“It stopped us going out to play football because we were scared we would get killed. One or two of my friends were hurt, one or two of them have since died.”

On arriving in England in 1999 and being reunited with his family, Muamba commented; “I thought to myself: What am I doing here? It was amazing the family being together again, but I couldn’t speak a word of English. I did extra work at school and that helped me.

“My first day at school was just a big puzzle. There was nobody who was from the Congo. I did OK in French! But that was about it. People were talking too fast and I was just puzzled.”

It was just another challenge that Muamba overcame highlighting his incredible work ethic and determination that has made him such a fighter in the centre of midfield in the world’s toughest league.

In an early life that saw much danger and change, Muamba found something that seemed easy in the form of P.E.

“PE was my favourite lesson. I used to like that because I used to run the show. Football was the answer to everything. That’s how I got respect at school.

“People would say: ‘That kid’s good’. I didn’t play for the district team. I just played for Arsenal’s academy.”

Just three years after arriving in England, Muamba signed schoolboy terms with Arsenal. In 2005 he signed his first professional contract but first team chances were hard to come by at the Gooners.

Muamba moved on loan to Birmingham for the 2006-2007 season where he was a roaring success- eventually completing a £4m permanent move to St Andrews.

In 2008 he moved north to Bolton for around £5m. The tough tackling midfielder has since made 148 appearances for the club and has become a key player for Owen Coyle’s Wanderers.


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