Fabrice Muamba visited the Home of FIFA for an informal meeting with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Jiri Dvorak. The ex-Bolton Wanderers player, who survived a sudden cardiac arrest on 17 March, came to speak about his experience back then, and also his views for the future.
The former Birmingham City and Arsenal midfielder took some time out to chat with FIFA.com about how he is shaping up now, his recent return to the scene of the accident and also his upbringing in Congo DR.
FIFA.com: You were invited by President Joseph S. Blatter to come to the Home of FIFA, what are you hoping to achieve with your visit?
Fabrice Muamba: I was happy for the invite to come to this wonderful organisation as hopefully we can work together in the future and hopefully we can promote football in many countries to help more people fulfil their dreams and send a positive message. It shows that football’s governing body is interested in every single league, every single player – no matter what race you are, no matter where you’re from they go out of their way to support you.
How are you at the moment following your cardiac arrest?
Physically I’m in good shape, I’m allowed to exercise now and I’m getting better every single day. I’m still on medication but hopefully I can get back to normality soon and go back to living my life as normal.
You recently went back to White Hart Lane, the scene of the accident, how was that for you?
Emotional, I wanted to be on the spot where I landed and I actually went in and touched the ground there, it was very emotional. There were a lot feelings going through my head at that time, I was thinking ‘Why me, have I wronged somebody for me to deserve this?’ But ultimately you have to thank god because god is in control of everything and I’m grateful it happened as it’s raised awareness of cardiac arrests, of how people in football can work together and I have no regrets because football gave me everything I wished for. We support footballers on another level, and this has shown that when those involved with football gather together they can create amazing results. What happened happened, you can’t control it, but the outcome of it was a very good one. We can be very proud of how the medical teams work in football.
In the first few weeks of your recovery how did it impact on you?
It didn’t really hit home until I heard the news regarding [Piermario Morosini] who was playing in Italy and it happened to him. I’m just grateful that god and people were there for me to do an extremely good job and keep me in a good condition. I thought, ‘Wow, this is bigger than I expected’ and that’s when it really hit home. I wasn’t really aware of what happened until you hear of a fellow professional who was in the same situation who didn’t make, when you did, you realise what a big issue this is.
And what have you taken from it all?
You have to treasure your life, it is a precious thing, but you also have to be aware of these things and monitor them. If you have a heart condition please make sure you see a doctor as it needs to be monitored. It’s your life, so please make sure you get a check-up by a doctor to make sure you are the right condition in body and mind to be able to participate in whatever sport you want.
You also took quite a different route into football, having left what is now Congo DR as a boy.
I left Congo when I was 11 and came to England when I was coming up to 12-years-old. I left because my dad was a political sufferer; when I went back three months ago I had to keep it very quiet, I came in and left without anyone knowing I was there. They only knew when they saw it on TV and I was already back in England, I just have to keep it quiet to be on the safe side. Regarding Congo we lived a peaceful life, but when you live in an African country and a new regime comes everybody wants to take over and change everything, so a lot of people had to leave at the same time.
Had you already begun playing football at this point?
I was already playing, but not professionally, just with my friends and people I used to hang around with. It was just something that I enjoyed doing but my parents always said that, as long as I got my education sorted first, I would be able to play football. That was always the priority, education first and then football after. From there that’s where I got to love game because I could play as much as I wanted once my school work was taken care of.