Bolton Wanderers' star defensive midfielder Fabrice Muamba received a warm and emotional welcome on his return to the Reebok and the football pitch, following a tragic collapse brought on by a cardiac arrest, 46 days ago. The 24 year old player could not help shedding a few tears, after both fans and players, from Bolton and Tottenham (the Trotters were hosting Spurs in a league game), cheered him for the hero he is.
Incidentally, the return is doubly emotional because it was against Spurs (in an FA Cup tie) that Muamba suffered the heart attack.
Although Spurs eventually ran out comfortable 4-1 winners, Muamba said he was delighted for support from his fans during so tough a time in his life as this and admitted he couldn't wait to be back playing with his team mates.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you - not just the Bolton fans but the whole country. The support has been overwhelming and I'm just grateful I can walk again and do things normally again. I wish I was playing," he said, according to a Daily Mail report, adding that he was feeling much better now.
"I'm OK. I'm getting stronger every day. I'm happy to be back, happy to see the fans outside. I'm overwhelmed by the support," the Guardian quoted him as saying.
"This is a special place - if you play for this football club you'll know how special it is - the support I've got has overwhelmed me. I'm very excited for today's game, happy that I came because I really wanted to come to support the boys and I'm just happy with the support I've got," he added.
"I've still got about six or seven boxes to go through of well-wishers' cards and I'm grateful for that. The support I got is overwhelming. It stays in my mind every single day. So this is keeping me going every single day," Sky Sports quoted Muamba as saying.
Meanwhile, Bolton manager Owen Coyle, who earlier said Muamba's professional future was undecided, brushed aside all talk of that at this junction and insisted he was just delighted to see his player again.
"To see Fabrice here tonight - it was quite emotional as you can imagine and we're absolutely delighted at his recovery - that's paramount for Fabrice and his family and I've always said that. I think it is too early to say [if he will play again]. He's certainly going in the right direction in terms of improving and that'll be something that is in consultation with the medical people," Coyle was reported as saying by the Guardian.