Former Premier League star Fabrice Muamba has realised there are bigger and better things in life than football, following recovery from his shock cardiac arrest.
The 25-year-old revealed today (THUR) that although he still feels fit enough to play the game he loves, he now appreciates there are more important goals for him to pursue.
The ex-Bolton Wanderers player almost died after he collapsed with sudden cardiac arrest while playing at White Hart Lane in an FA cup tie last March. His heart stopped beating for 78 minutes, but because of the prompt treatment he received on the pitch he defied the odds to survive and make an incredible recovery.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s Bupa Great Manchester Run, Muamba said: “I feel in great shape, good enough to play the game I love. But I have learnt that there are bigger and better things in life than playing football.
“Of course I do miss playing and think about it a lot, but I’m taking it one day at a time and looking to the future, not the past.”
The popular former midfielder is the official starter for this year’s Bupa Great Manchester Run and is appealing for football fans in particular to come together and raise money for great causes across the UK.
Organisers of the event, Nova International, are hoping to recruit a football fan from all the Premier and Football League teams in England to ‘Run for Muamba’, and supporters are encouraged to run in their football shirts, in a show of unity and celebration of his amazing recovery.
Muamba added: “I am calling on all football fans to put their rivalry and differences aside and unite to raise money for great causes across the UK. It is amazing what can be achieved when we do this.
“I am delighted to be involved in this fantastic event and I urge people across the UK to sign-up and get involved too. You can raise money for a great cause, or you can do it just to keep fit - whatever your motivation, I look forward to waving you off at the starting line on May 26.”
Following his traumatic collapse Muamba, who played under-21 for England, was fitted with a pacemaker and forced to resign from football.
So it is only natural that the arrival of his second child with wife Shauna Magunda in June is mixed with joy and health concerns.
Muamba said: “We are really looking forward to the arrival of our second baby and like any parent we are just hoping and praying that it will arrive in full health. We are not really thinking beyond that at the moment.”
In recognition of his popularity within the game he loved a team of 25 runners, one for each year of his life, will take part in the Bupa Great Manchester Run.
The team, which will include Bolton Wanderers club chaplain, Phil Mason, will run for the Arrhythmia Alliance ‘Hearts and Goals’ campaign, which helps place lifesaving AEDs (automated external defibrillators) in communities.
David Hart, Communications Director of Nova, said “We are really thrilled that Fabrice has accepted our invitation and we’d love to see football fans showing their support for both him and Hearts and Goals at the Bupa Great Manchester Run. Like everybody else, we were willing Fabrice to pull through last March and the fact that he is here is a real cause for celebration.”
Previous honorary starters of the Bupa Great Manchester Run, which is televised live on BBC television, include Sir Alex Ferguson, Andrew Flintoff, Jess Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Sir Bobby Charlton, Amir Khan and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Further details and entry is available at www.greatrun.org/Manchester with entries being accepted on a first come, first served basis until the limit of 40,000 is achieved. Football fans who want to ‘Run for Muamba’ should email details to RunForMuamba@greatrun.org
Exclusive interview to be published shortly.