Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba today spoke of his devastation at being forced to retire from football due to the heart attack he suffered in March.
The Championship club announced today that the 24-year-old, who had hoped to make a comeback, had made the decision to retire from the professional game after taking medical advice.
"While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for," said Muamba."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."
Muamba collapsed while playing for Bolton against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in an FA Cup match on 17 March. He received lengthy attention on the pitch and it later emerged that his heart had stopped for 78 minutes. Remarkably he made a stunning recovery and left hospital a month later.
Muamba told Bolton's official website: "Since suffering my heart attack and being discharged from hospital, I have remained utterly positive in the belief I could one day resume my playing career and play for Bolton Wanderers once again.
"As part of my on-going recovery, last week I travelled to Belgium to seek further medical advice from a leading cardiologist. But the news I received was obviously not what I had hoped it would be and it means I am now announcing my retirement from professional football.
"Football has been my life since I was a teenage boy and it has given me so many opportunities. Above all else, I love the game and count myself very lucky to have been able to play at the highest level.
"I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career, and the Bolton fans who have been incredible. I am blessed to have the support of my family and friends at this time."
Bolton chairman Phil Gartside said: "To have Fabrice here and with us is truly amazing and we are all very thankful for that.
"We are all hugely disappointed that Fabrice will be unable to return to his playing career but we have to be guided by the medical recommendations and the best interests of Fabrice. The most important thing is that Fabrice and his family have the rest of their lives ahead of them."
Bolton boss Owen Coyle said: "We have spoken with Fab and he knows we will always support him in whatever he wants to do and that we will always be here for him.
"He is obviously massively disappointed that he won't be able to carry on his career, but everyone has seen what a fighter and strong person he is in mind and body. We know that he will go on to achieve great things and within all this disappointment, the most important thing is that he is here, alive, today."
Muamba and his family fled war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeking asylum in the UK. Despite arriving in London age 11, unable to speak English, he went on to achieve ten GCSEs and three A levels and joined Arsenal's youth academy in 2002. He later joined Birmingham, before moving to Bolton in 2008.