BOLTON, ENGLAND - MAY 02: Fabrice Muamba of Bolton Wanderers waves to the crowd prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur at the Reebok Stadium on May 2, 2012 in Bolton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Bolton will offer Fabrice Muamba the chance to stay at the club in a new role after the midfielder was forced to quit playing on Wednesday, five months after suffering a near-fatal heart attack on the pitch.

The decision was made after Muamba went to see leading cardiologist Pedro Brugada in Belgium last week. Although the routine clean-up operation went well, the 24-year-old was given the devastating news that he would not be able to make a comeback.

Bolton immediately offered Muamba their full support and will let him choose between a variety of opportunities. They are expected to range from club ambassador to a role in their education or community departments, although it is not yet clear whether his health will enable him to coach in future.

The club are anxious to give their former player as much time as he needs, however, and he is under no pressure to work, with early retirement cushioned by a substantial insurance payout and his own prudent financial planning.

Bolton manager 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. 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. The former England Under 21 star has remained open-minded about the possibility of playing again since he went into cardiac arrest on the pitch at White Hart Lane in March and was effectively dead for 78 minutes.

A devout Christian, Muamba has always maintained that his future as a player lay in God’s hands and he would accept the outcome.

In a statement on Wednesday, he said: “While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for. 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.

“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.”

Muamba, who needed 15 defibrillator shocks to restart his heart following the incident on March 17, made a miraculous recovery at the London Chest Hospital and was discharged a month later.

He had a special defibrillator pacemaker fitted in case the problem recurred but Dr Leonard Shapiro, cardiology consultant to the FA, admitted on Wednesday that the risk of him playing again was too great.

Bolton midfiel der Stuart Holden paid tribute to his team-mate on Twitter, writing: “Sad to hear my partner @fmuamba has to retire from football. U r an inspiration to so many bro” and former Arsenal team-mate Ashley Cole added: “@fmuamba all the best lad... wish you success in everythin #bless.”

Muamba’s partner Shauna also tweeted her appreciation to the well-wishers.

She wrote: “Thanks for all the support. We’re looki ng forward to whatever the future holds.” [email protected] – Daily Mail