Benoit Assou-Ekotto: 'Muamba has united us as a football family'
This is the true beauty and power of football. It connects people in a way that is hard to describe
Saturday was one of those days that will stay with me for ever. Then again, I hope it stays with us all. There are some moments that make you look at the world with different eyes. But sometimes, in these moments there is a magical power because people connect, people see the human in each other and people feel another person's pain – or at least take the time to think about it.
I wish Fabrice a very quick and full recovery, not because he is a good guy, a young man, a fellow professional or a brother, but because he is a human and it will be wonderful for him to see for himself the good that has come from this very sad and frightening event in his life. When I saw him lying on the pitch at White Hart Lane, I was scared. Scared for him, scared for his family, his friends and all those people who know him and who care about him.
I was scared as I wondered, how could it all just end like that for a young man? I could see the same questions in the eyes of my team-mates, the Bolton players, our bosses and their colleagues. And I learnt a new word as I tried to make sense of it late on Saturday: surreal. When I tried to describe it all, my friend said to me "surreal". And it was. As I stood there on the pitch looking at Fabrice and hearing the fans of both teams singing his name, I was in a surreal moment.
But I witnessed the magic of the moment. I saw a group of people, professionals, who were not caught up in the moment but were only focused. The medics were focused on Fabrice. They were not distracted by anything, not even the sort of thoughts that I had in my head, but they worked, calmly and professionally.
But this was only one of the things that have made this difficult moment so powerful and magical. All around me people were praying. People were focused only on Fabrice. People who had travelled from far and near were all focused on the wellbeing of Fabrice and nothing else mattered. A lot of people didn't know him personally but that did not stop them from extending good wishes to him and his family. It didn't stop thousands of people at the stadiums across Europe yesterday from wishing him a speedy recovery, clapping and praying for him. This is the true beauty and power of football. It connects people in a way that is hard to describe.
It is this that I feel is the magic of the moment. I pray that Fabrice recovers fully to see the magic that he is a part of. He must recover so I can thank him for reminding us that we must always be prepared to put things into perspective, like the referee and the fans did when the game was called off. Nobody argued. The life of Fabrice was more important. It didn't and doesn't matter if he is tall, short, young, old, black, white, good or bad. All that matters is that we all simply see the human in him.
Through a very challenging and scary episode Fabrice has connected us as a football family, and he is further connecting us as human beings. His pain and that of his family and loved ones could be a blessing but the true blessing would be if Fabrice told the story himself when he walks out of hospital.
This column appeared in full in yesterday's Evening Standard
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