ISTANBUL – FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the recovery of Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba was “a miracle” which had deeply affected him as it brought back memories of Marc-Vivien Foe of Cameroon who died in similar circumstances in 2003.
Muamba, 23, collapsed following a heart attack during the first half of a FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday and recovered after his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes.
Foe, who was 28, collapsed and died on the pitch playing for Cameroon against Colombia in Lyon, France, in a Confederations Cup match in 2003. The two players both collapsed without warning and with no other players near them.
Blatter, speaking during a break while attending the UEFA Congress in Istanbul, told a group of reporters: “It’s a miracle. I had a phone call from Phil Gartside, the chairman of Bolton, and I have to say it was a very emotional call. As he said, from time to time there are forces somewhere that have nothing to do with reality.
“He spoke about the players who stood all around him. He was very emotional, and I was emotional as well because I told him the story of how I brought Foe back to Cameroon, his homeland, how I accompanied him until his funeral.
“When I saw the Muamba incident on the television, it was terrible. His chairman speaks about the miracle and I speak about a miracle as well.
“I am a deeply faithful man, a religious man, and I believe there is something more than just playing the game; there is somebody who looks after us.”
Following Foe’s death FIFA began moves to encourage clubs to introduce regular heart screening for their players and while this is now widespread, Blatter said more could still be done.
“I know this player had heart screening last year and it should be done for everyone, in repetition, but especially for those in competition in football or other sports.
“You know, we have 300 million in the game and in 300 million, something will happen somewhere but the other good thing is that in our game, it is played everywhere so it is always in sunshine, because somewhere the sun is shining and somewhere there is football.”
Muamba has been in intensive care in the London Chest Hospital since the incident on Saturday and is conscious and talking.
Sam Mohiddin, the consultant cardiologist treating him said on Thursday: “His recovery has been remarkable.” — Reuters