Fabrice Muamba brought Britain to its knees when he collapsed on the pitch. Matthew Murray met the man who put prayer on the front pages of the tabloids.
Football fans across the globe looked on in shock as Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch as his team took on Tottenham Hotspur in a televised FA Cup quarter-final.
It soon transpired he had suffered a cardiac arrest and was dead for 78 minutes. Paramedics rushed to the scene and the game was abandoned.
Everyone feared the worst. Muamba wasn’t responding and was rushed to hospital, his family being told to prepare a funeral for the 24-year-old.
But what happened next shocked the world – Britain turned to prayer. Backed by the Sun Newspaper – whose front page headline ‘Pray for Muamba’ was a historic moment for Christianity in the UK – everyone began to pray for Fabrice’s recovery.
Footballers wore ‘Pray For Muamba’ t-shirts underneath their kits and churches up and down the country held prayer meetings for the former Arsenal youngster.
[swpm_protected for="2-3-4" do_not_show_protected_msg="1"] A Miraculous Recovery [/swpm_protected]
About two weeks after the incident, Muamba miraculously regained consciousness and posted a photo on Twitter thanking fans for their prayers.
He later said: “I thank God because I am alive. Without him I would surely be dead. This is a miracle, the power of Jesus Christ has raised me up and I thank everyone for their prayers and support throughout the world.”
Even secular media reports credited Muamba’s recovery to divine intervention, while the cardiologist on the scene, Dr Andrew Deaner, told the BBC: “If you’re ever going to use the term miraculous, it could be used here.”
Not only did the miracle save Muamba’s life, but it got his faith back on track too.
He grew up in a Christian home in London but his church attendance had slipped.
He said: “One of the reasons I slipped when I moved to Birmingham, playing the field and being an idiot, was because I went from living in a God- filled home to not attending church at all. I paid the price for that and lost my way.[/swpm_protected]
[swpm_protected for="2-3-4" do_not_show_protected_msg="1"] "I Serve A God Who Will Never Change" [/swpm_protected]
“I’ve made up for that though now and every Sunday I go church in Manchester where there’s lots of singing, praying and Bible reading. I read the Bible every morning and night and as long as Christ is in me I can have victory and glory in any situation I come across.
“My faith in God gives me inner peace, I serve him and he’s the person who can provide all my needs and wishes. I serve a God who will never change; he will always be powerful, awesome and a guide to my life. He is the driver to my car – I’m just the passenger. I am walking proof of the power of prayer. For 78 minutes I was dead and even if I lived was expected to have suffered brain damage.
“But I’m very much alive and sitting here talking. Someone up there was watching over me. On the morning of the game I prayed with my father and asked God to protect me – and he didn’t let me down.”
After medical advice, Muamba was forced to retire, and he now works as a pundit and has ambitions as a sports journalist.
He added: “While the news [to retire] is devastating, I have much to be thankful for. I thank God that I am alive and I pay tribute once again to the members of the medical team who never gave up on me.”
Read more articles about footballers who believe in God in The Beautiful Game[/swpm_protected]
This article was taken from the December 2013 issue of New Life Newspaper.