'I count myself very lucky' says Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba upon announcing retirement following heart attack


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The Independent Football

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba has retired from playing professional football.

The decision was based on the recommendation of his medical team, the Championship club said.

"Football has been my life since I was a teenage boy and it has given me so many opportunities," Muamba said in a statement on Bolton's official website.

"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."

The 24-year-old collapsed on the pitch at White Hart Lane as his team played Tottenham in the FA Cup in March this year.

The televised match came to a standstill when, with no other players around, Muamba fell to the ground.

After receiving treatment on the pitch for a lengthy amount of time, Mumba was then taken to hospital. Referee Howard Webb abandoned the match as fans of both sides left the stadium in near silence.

It later transpired that the midfielder's heart had stopped for 78 minutes.

There was a huge outpouring of support in the subsequent days and weeks, with fears the former England under-21 international would not pull through.

Thierry Henry was among a multitude of players who went to visit Muamba at the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, while various clubs, including Real Madrid, showed their support by wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the name of the Zaire born midfielder.

After Muamba was discharged from hospital in April, there were hopes that he could return to football, including from the player himself.

"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," he said today.

"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.

"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."

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside said today: "To have Fabrice here and with us is truly amazing and we are all very thankful for that.

"We are all hugely disappointed that Fabrice will be unable to return to his playing career but we have to be guided by the medical recommendations and the best interests of Fabrice.

"The most important thing is that Fabrice and his family have the rest of their lives ahead of them."

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."

The announcement comes a few days before the start of the Championship season, with Bolton beginning their campaign away against Burnley on Saturday.