Nigel Reo-Coker: 'I broke down and couldn't speak when I saw Fabrice'

The Bolton captain reveals the emotional impact of visiting his team-mate in hospital

Nigel Reo-Coker has revealed that he broke down when he walked into the hospital room to see his friend and team-mate Fabrice Muamba for the first time.

Reo-Coker, the Bolton captain for spells this season, went to see Muamba at the London Chest Hospital with team-mates Darren Pratley and Mark Davies following the cardiac arrest he suffered at Tottenham in the FA Cup last Saturday. The sight of the tubes coming out of their friend as he lay in his bed was too much.

"To see him lying there with all the tubes and everything, it was tough," Reo-Coker said. "It was really difficult, very, very difficult for me, myself, Darren and Mitch, our physio.

"We'd already been told that he'd got his memory, so he could recognise people. When I walked in there, I choked up. He said, 'All right Nige?' obviously not speaking so well because he was still a bit drugged up. He said, 'What happened?' I just choked up in all honesty; I couldn't even answer him. I was just looking at him and he was asking, 'What happened, what happened?'

"I was overjoyed just to see him but he's still in a serious situation and that's why I couldn't even answer him. I just choked up just seeing him in that position. Pratley said, 'You just collapsed, but don't worry about it, you're going to be OK'.

"He's still in a very serious condition and we're taking it one day at a time but, for me, just to see him after what I saw on the pitch and the news we got in the dressing room, for your heart not beating for that long, just to be alive and recognise anyone is a miracle.

"He's still not out of the woods. It was nice to finally see him and to still be alive was more than enough for me. We were in and out in probably about a minute, maximum. You've got to respect the family and their privacy. When the incident occurred, I was thinking about going straight to the hospital myself after the game but I just thought that in these situations the most important thing is to be around immediate family and your closest friends.

"There would have been too many people there. I left it for a few days. I saw Shauna, his fiancée, and explained that I would have come sooner but it was going to be chaos with so many people calling and texting. If I was in that situation, I'd want the same."

Reo-Coker also talked of the impact seeing Muamba collapse had on himself and his team-mates. He was the closest player to Muamba when he fell to the White Hart Lane turf and Reo-Coker added: "It feels like a lifetime since the incident but it only happened on Saturday. I remember playing the game, Fabrice breaking forward once and having a shot then trying to play it out wide.

"I remember him running back and collecting a half clearance from one of our centre-backs," he said. "The next thing I remember is facing towards our right-back position and I turned around and saw Fabrice on the floor. I thought maybe there had been a collision with a Tottenham player but then I realised that there was no one close to him.

"He was shaking. I didn't know what it was. I thought he might have been having a fit, but I'd not known him to have any fits or epilepsy or anything like that. I didn't realise how serious it was until the physio got there and I tried to help him turn Fabrice over. That's when I realised that it was something more serious. It was very emotional in the dressing room. From the time he was on the pitch to being carried into the ambulance, it just felt like a lifetime.

"Emotions were everywhere in the dressing room. We've got a very young team and a lot of them were in tears. Young Ryo [Miyaichi], everyone was in tears. There was nothing you could say to comfort each other. It was totally unexpected. One minute you're playing a game, the next he's lying there. No one saw it coming.

"Later, I couldn't think straight. It's an experience you never expect or want to go through. For me, it's a life changing experience. It just shows how precious life is. Football came second. The one thing I remember distinctively was when they were trying to resuscitate him and they were shocking him, the stadium just went quiet. Even though they were the opposition fans, you could sense the Spurs fans were shocked. You could tell by the atmosphere.

"Then the Bolton fans began to sing his name. Then the Spurs fans began to sing his name. It just sent a tingle down my spine to the point where I nearly broke down. I am not generally a person who cries that much but it sent a real tingle down my spine. I cannot find the words to put together to describe the feeling but that's just how it was. I literally got home and closed the door and didn't pick up the phone to anyone. Lots of people texted me to see if I was OK and I appreciate that, but it was not about me."

Today, however, will be about Reo-Coker and his team-mates and how they react against Blackburn Rovers in a crucial game at the Reebok Stadium as Bolton seek to lift themselves out of the relegation zone.

"I can only speak for myself, that edge is there," he added. "It's been difficult, but, like I said, Fabrice literally was not alive for 70 minutes. To see him alive was such a weight off my shoulders. That gives me the fighting spirit. That gives me the edge to go and perform on Saturday. Hopefully, that will go throughout the whole team."

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick