Football fans all over the world are praying for the speedy recovery of Bolton's Fabrice Muamba. The 23-year-old midfielder tragically collapsed on the pitch Saturday, during his club's FA Cup game against Tottenham, with a suspected heart attack.
Muamba was treated for six to 10 minutes on the pitch before being rushed to the London Chest Hospital's intensive care unit, where he remained in critical condition Sunday.
Who is Fabrice Muamba?
Fabrice Ndala Muamba was always a very talented athlete. Born in the strife-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire) on April 6, 1988, the young boy grew up with a heartbreaking array of hardships to face and surmount.
In 1997, Muamba's father - Marcel (although a Telegraph report claims his father's name is Claude) - who worked for the regime of former Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko, was forced to flee the country, abandoning his young family, after being chased by rebel forces.
Muamba was 11 when he moved to England and reunited with his father, who had sought political asylum there. To read more about the Congo war and the country's polticial, social and economic conditions at the time, click here.
The young Muamba would grow up with horrifying images of bloodshed and death.
"It was very, very tough. I saw the war. I saw people die. I grew up with it. It was scary," he said, in a report by the Daily Mail.
Muamba was sent to Kelmscott School in Walthamstow, the northeast of London. New to his surroundings and the language, Muamba must have cut a rather sorry figure. However, he very soon proved himself to be, in every sense of the word, a fighter.
He not only mastered the language but also excelled at school and reportedly wanted to become an accountant one day and be called "Dr Muamba".
In 2002, he started his footballing career and joined Arsenal's youth academy; he signed as a first-year scholar in 2004. He made his debut at 17; the same year he made the first of his two first-team appearances for the Gunners.
His pride, his ambition and his spirit were immediately apparent, as was his love for England.
"This is my adopted country," he was quoted as saying in a Telegraph report, "People have helped me, welcomed me with open arms and given me this opportunity. I'm earning a more than decent living and leading a comfortable life. I'm very appreciative of that."
Muamba's fledgling football career continued when he was loaned to Birmingham City (playing in the Championship) in 2006. He made 36 appearances for the club and was declared the club's Young Player of the Year. The midfielder made his move to Birmingham - for a reported fee of £4 million - permanent in May, 2007 and made his Premier League debut the same year.
His worth and value as a hard-working and hard-tackling midfielder rose almost immediately. In 2008, he joined Bolton for a fee of £5 million.
He is also a rising young star in the national set-up. He has represented his adopted country at every level from the Under-16s to the Under-21s and has often been spoken of as a future international.
On a personal front, Muamba has a 3-year-son - Joshua - and he was engaged to his girlfriend, Shauna Magunda, on Valentine's Day.
There is much evil in the world today and we often lament the loss of people - friends and family - we feel died too young or in the prime of their life. It is with that same horror that the world looks on. In the words of one of his fellow professionals, it does not matter if you do not follow football. You do not even have to like the game -- but you should, and we do too, pray for Fabrice Ndala Muamba's speedy recovery.
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