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London - Former Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest and almost died playing at Tottenham Hotspur in March, made an emotional return to White Hart Lane for the first time on Thursday.
Muamba, whose heart stopped beating for 78 minutes after he collapsed during an FA Cup tie between Spurs and Bolton, made a full recovery but the 24-year-old was forced to retire from the game on doctors' orders.
Walking onto the pitch during the halftime interval at the Europa League match between Spurs and Maribor of Slovenia, Muamba pointed to where he fell and then spoke to the crowd with tears streaming down his face.
“I want to thank all of you Spurs fans who were here and who prayed for me,” he said.
“You were all fantastic and I will never forget,” he added as fans gave him a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes.
The medical teams of Spurs and Bolton treated him for more than 20 minutes on the pitch after he collapsed and he spent four weeks in hospital in east London where he made a miraculous recovery before he was discharged.
The former England under-21 international, who carried the Olympic torch in July, was invited to Zurich last month by Fifa President Sepp Blatter to discuss a possible role with world soccer's governing body. - Reuters