The Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba has told of the dramatic moment he "died" in front of thousands of football fans and described his recovery as "more than a miracle".
The 24-year-old's heart stopped beating naturally for 78 minutes after he collapsed during his club's FA Cup tie at Tottenham on 17 March. But the devout Christian stunned doctors by coming back to life and was fit enough to walk out of hospital just a month after the ordeal.
In an interview with The Sun, Muamba revealed he asked God to protect him before the match, which was abandoned after his collapse. He said: "Someone up there was watching over me. What happened to me was really more than a miracle.
"On the morning of the game, I prayed with my father and asked God to protect me – and he didn't let me down. I was dead and even if I lived, I was expected to have suffered brain damage. But I'm very much alive and sitting here talking now." Muamba revealed he was feeling "focused", "sharp" and "particularly fit" in the lead-up to the game. But 41 minutes into the first half the player said he started to feel dizzy and began seeing double before collapsing.
"It was a kind of surreal feeling, like I was running along inside someone else's body," he said. "I had no pain whatsoever. Just an odd feeling that's impossible to explain. Then I started to see double."
Muamba, who posed shirtless to reveal a 3ins scar on his chest where doctors inserted a zapper to restart his heart if it ever stops again, broke down in tears during the interview.
Reliving the shocking moment his heart stopped, he added: "I just felt myself falling through the air and then felt two big thumps as my head hit the ground in front of me then that was it. Blackness, nothing. I was dead."
The former England Under-21 international has no recollection of the treatment he received on the field or being rushed to the London Chest Hospital. Among those who battled to keep him alive was Dr Andrew Deaner, a cardiologist and Tottenham fan who leapt from his seat in the crowd and rushed on to the pitch.
Muamba thanked the doctor, saying: "He is the reason I have been able to hold my baby son again and continue my life." The Zaire-born player has been recovering with his three-year-old son Joshua and fiancée Shauna Magunda at home after being discharged from the hospital a week ago.
It is not yet known if he will return to competitive football.