Guinea's Traore upbeat after heart attack

Mohamed Traore is not unlike any other aspiring young footballer around the world, with an eye on a lucrative move to a high-profile league and a glittering international career.

But in his quest for success the 20-year-old from the west African nation of Guinea has to overcome an important hurdle: he has recently suffered a heart attack.

"I think my career is not in danger," Traore said, sitting comfortably on the porch of a small restaurant in the Czech Republic's second city, Brno, where he has been plying his trade since November 2012 for local side Zbrojovka Brno. "The doctor has given me six weeks to rest. After that, I will see him again and learn when I can resume training."

Traore is not unique in football, where a spate of heart-related deaths among young players in recent years has prompted calls for better medical assistance at all matches and cardiac screening. In 2003, tragedy struck when Cameroon's Marc-Vivien Foe died of cardiac arrest during a Confederations Cup semi-final against Colombia. He was 28.

In April last year, 25-year-old Italian midfielder Piermario Morosini collapsed while playing a Serie B match for Livorno and died shortly afterwards from an apparent heart attack. The previous month, Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba, also 25, suffered cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham when his heart stopped beating for an astonishing 78 minutes.

Last week, Afghanistan defender Farzad Ghulam suffered from minor cardiac arrest during a SAFF Championship semi-final in Nepal. In the Muamba case, the quick-thinking and skill of doctors and medics at White Hart Lane were credited with saving the player's life. Ghulam was revived with a FIFA-supplied defibrillator used by an approved competition doctor.

Despite his miraculous recovery, Muamba was later forced to quit the game on health grounds. Traore's heart attack may not have come on the pitch but it was no less dramatic.

The doctor has told me I can start running again after six weeks, and then perhaps swimming too. We'll see after that. I'll leave that all in God's hands.
Mohamed Traore

"After the game (against Ostrava on August 26), I took a shower, went out to hand out some autographs and for pics with the fans. And then, on the bus, I collapsed," said Traore, who has scored one goal in six games for Brno this season.

He was immediately taken to hospital for surgery to remove a clot from his coronary artery. "I remember everything, I didn't lose consciousness for a moment," Traore said, adding that he had talked to the doctor all through the surgery.

"Fortunately, it happened before we left Ostrava, and fortunately, an expert cardiologist was on duty that night," said Zdenek Kudela, sports director at Zbrojovka Brno. "For the club, this means we will have to do without one of our best players for a yet unspecified period of time," he added.

Zbrojovka Brno, the 1978 champions of former Czechoslovakia - which split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 - have started the season poorly. They have just four points from eight games and are second-bottom of the 16-member league.

"Momo is great with the ball, he's fast and plays a bit by instinct but he has also made progress in terms of tactics," said Kudela.

Traore, who had previously played for French fourth-league side FC Aubervilliers, passed all obligatory tests for Czech top-flight players in the close season and seemed to be in excellent condition. However, Ivo Horak, head physician at the coronary unit of the Ostrava hospital, said the footballer was not a rare case.

"I have searched the statistics: every year we accept five to eight people under 40 suffering from this type of heart attack," he said. "Up to now, the youngest one was 27," Horak told reporters as Traore was leaving the hospital after four days under observation.

An ardent admirer of Ivorian striker Didier Drogba and Spanish champions Barcelona, Traore is still dreaming of joining the Guinean national team and playing in a big league in western Europe.

"The doctor has told me I can start running again after six weeks, and then perhaps swimming too. We'll see after that. I'll leave that all in God's hands," said Traore who began his career at Guinean side FC Touba.

"In any case, we are planning to take him to Paris... to have a second medical opinion. We want to make sure this won't happen again," said Traore's agent Omar Akkal.