Fabrice Muamba made an emotional return to the scene of the cardiac arrest that caused his heart to stop for 78 minutes last night, during Tottenham’s 3-1 Europa League win over Maribor.
Muamba collapsed while playing for Bolton against Spurs in the FA Cup last season, and only survived thanks to the medical expertise of the team at White Hart Lane as well as the efforts of the London Chest Hospital.
The former Arsenal youngster, who counts himself lucky to be alive, was forced to retire from the game following the incident and has since started charity work to raise awareness and screening of heart conditions.
Invited onto the pitch at White Hart Lane during half-time last night, a visibly emotional Muamba thanked the crowd for their rapturous reception.
"I can't express... All I can say is thanks to the Tottenham fans the way they reacted," he told the onlooking supporters,” he said.
"There are people out there who prayed for me. I want to thank the chairman, and to all the Spurs fans. I am grateful to them. They are awesome fans."
Muamba has also written an autobiography about his experiences, and says he intends to spend his time focusing on his charity work.
"We just want to raise money so everyone has their heart checked," he added.
"Today I wanted to visit that place one more time for closure."
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas thanked Muamba for attending White Hart Lane last night in his program notes, and said he was ‘thrilled’ to see him back in north London.
Spurs secured their first win of their Europa League campaign last night, with a Jermain Defoe hat-trick ensuring that Villas-Boas’ side move up to second in Group J, one point behind Lazio with a game against the Italians in Rome to come later this month.