Muamba collapse leaves rivals chanting his name

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Players and supporters left in a state of shock as paramedics pump midfielder’s chest while the 23-year-old is rushed to hospital in an ambulance

White Hart Lane

By seven o'clock last night, as Tottenham's FA Cup quarter-final against Bolton Wanderers should have been building to a climax, White Hart Lane was eerily silent and fearing the worst. There was serious concern for the life of Fabrice Muamba, the 23-year-old Bolton midfielder who collapsed three minutes before half-time.

Although play was on that same side of the pitch – the far side from the tunnel – Muamba was not involved as Gareth Bale broke down the left wing and crossed the ball.

Players of both sides immediately called for assistance and indicated that medical staff and stretcher bearers needed a greater sense of urgency. Six paramedics attended but it was clear from the reaction of players and crowd that this was no ordinary injury.

As a defibrilator was brought on and resuscitation was attempted, a number of team-mates and opponents could not bring themselves to look. Television coverage by ESPN showed sufficient sensitivity not to home in.

The crowd on that side of the pitch could see that something was seriously wrong. Whereas there would normally have been complaints and jeers, the home crowd regularly broke into applause as Bolton supporters chanted Muamba's name.

Six paramedics attended him and players led by the Spurs captain Scott Parker and senior professional William Gallas appeared to be telling referee Howard Webb that the game could not continue and after speaking to managers Harry Redknapp and Owen Coyle he led the teams from the pitch some five minutes after the incident occurred. Shortly afterwards there was an official announcement of an abandonment and the 35,000 crowd were asked to leave, with the main stand patrons being held back.

Players stood around in the dressing room area in a state of shock while Bolton's manager Owen Coyle and Kevin Davies, who was a non-playing substitute, accompanied him to the London Chest Hospital.

This is the latest in a series of similar incidents in the last few years, some of which have seen players lose their lives. In December 2007 Phil O'Donnell, a 35-year-old Motherwell player, collapsed during a game against Dundee United with what was later confirmed as heart failure. He died on the way to hospital. The same year Antonio Puerta of Sevilla died after collapsing in a game against Getafe.

Earlier tragedies concerned Marc-Vivien Foé the Cameroon midfielder at the 2003 Confederations Cup semi-final against Colombia and David Longhurst of York City who suffered a heart attack while playing against Lincoln City at the age of 25.

Last night's game was halted with the scores level at 1-1, but that was hardly of any significance as night drew in here. The crowd filed away quietly with Bolton's followers being sympathetically applauded by Spurs fans, leaving only stewards and media representatives who were told the ground would be closed by nine o'clock.

By that stage news was filtering back to the stadium and reaching the Bolton supporters on their long journey home that Muamba was first in a stable, and then critical, condition and that the worst seemed to have been averted.

The Professional Footballers' Association's chief executive Gordon Taylor, a former Bolton player, said last night: "At the moment we are all watching, waiting, hoping and praying. For all the football family it's a terrible thing to see. We just hope it's not going to be a situation like that of Marc-Vivian Foé.

"This can happen on a pitch and is one of the reasons why we insist all youngsters coming into the game have the ability to have heart screenings.

"Fabrice is a very popular character. He's a great lad with great family. Everybody is just feeling terrible at the moment. I hope he can pull through."

As is the way these days, players and friends took to Twitter to express their sympathy as well as in some cases prayers for a fellow Christian. The Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte, who came through the Arsenal youth team with Muamba, posted: "I seriously hope my best friend in football is OK. Stay strong bro please please stay strong. God is with you remember that."

Arsenal's Robin van Persie and Everton's Tim Cahill were among others who also turned to Twitter while Muamba's Bolton team-mate, Stuart Holden, wrote: "Praying for you Fab. Hope he's OK. Thoughts with him and his family."

The Tottenham midfielderTom Huddlestone, who had missed the match through injury, wrote: "Thoughts with Fab and his family. Feel sick watching this, puts football and everything else into perspective."

The football world, Christian or not, could say Amen to that last night.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable