Arsene Wenger has paid a fitting tribute to Bolton Wanderers midfielder and former Gunner Fabrice Muamba, after the 23-year-old was taken to hospital following his collapse in the FA Cup quarter-final clash with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Muamba remains in a critical condition in intensive care, and has received messages of support from throughout the game, as football unites in light of the former England U21 international's situation.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, Wenger, who worked closely with the Trotters star as he came through the club's north London academy explained: "This is of course a massive shock to us all and we just hope that Fabrice will pull through safely.
"You pray that the damage will be repaired and that Fabrice will come out healthy and we will see his smile again. That is all you wish for.
"As a man, Fabrice has a positive attitude towards life, he is full of determination and has a great desire. Everyone at Arsenal has huge respect for Fabrice. Even after he left us, he often passed by to say hello and speak about how it was going for him. We feel very deeply attached to him.
"He is what you would call a committed player. His hunger and determination was so big. When he was younger, he had massive players in front of him at Arsenal, but I felt he had reached the level to play in the Premier League, so we let him go and he has proved his quality."
Arsenal Under-18s coach Steve Bould - who also worked with Muamba as he came through the club's academy - added more heartfelt words of support for the youngster.
"I was listening to the radio when it happened and it's just tragic. Fabrice is a genuinely nice lad, he is respectful, well-mannered and we just hope and pray that he's going to pull through.
"When he was at Arsenal, Fabrice was hungry for information - he always wanted to improve and he would be out on the pitches for hours having a go. He would try anything to be the best he could be. It is the same with his studying - he's a really bright lad.
"I was at our Hale End academy when Fabrice first arrived and he still has that attachment to the club. He was here recently because he loves to come down and see what's going on. The lad lives and breathes football. Our thoughts are with Fabrice and his family."
Wenger explained that Muamba still has close ties to a number of players, coaches and fans at Arsenal, and on behalf of everyone at the football club wished him all the best in his recovery.
"A football player always remains attached to where he was educated," concluded the Frenchman. "Fabrice had his friends from childhood here and they remain your friends forever. We are all thinking of Fabrice, his family and everyone close to him."
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