Muamba incident has echoes of Fadiga's collapse


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The Independent Football

The trauma Bolton were feeling last night has contributed to a season which they will remember as a desperate one, even if football's prayers are answered and Fabrice Muamba pulls through.

The club learned of the death of one of its legends of the modern era, Gary Speed, in November, and on the field of play Owen Coyle has been forced to maintain the morale of players who know that even if their fight for Premier League survival is successful, there will need to be a re-examination of salaries for the next campaign, with the club's latest accounts showing them £110m in the red.

Long injury lay-offs to Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-yong have also hit them badly.

Muamba's spirit has been unmistakeable amid such troubles. "The kind of player who defies all the stereotypes about footballers," was how one football official who has known him for almost a decade described him yesterday.

By a remarkable coincidence, Bolton have experienced a similar medical trauma before, in 2004, when then-Senegal striker Khalilou Fadiga collapsed on the pitch before a League Cup game, also against Tottenham. Fadiga returned to training 11 days after undergoing surgery to treat a heart problem by implanting an automatic defibrillator and later returned to action.