It’s nearly nine years since Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch at White Hart Lane while playing for Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup quarter final, and to this day the shock remains when reliving the near-tragic incident.

The then 24-year-old midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest and his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes. His miracle survival is owed largely to the quick-thinking medical staff that night at the stadium and then the staff at the London Chest Hospital – including Spurs fan Dr Andrew Deaner, a consultant cardiologist, who was at the match.

Just weeks later, Muamba was told he wouldn’t be able to play football again. After breaking through the Arsenal youth academy, impressing at Birmingham City and being a mainstay in the Bolton XI, not to mention playing for England at numerous youth levels, his playing career was over.

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Fabrice spoke exclusively to UCFB in a recent interview.

Speaking exclusively to UCFB, Muamba relived those memories. He said: “To be told, after seeing three of the best specialists in the world and being given the same outcome, that it’s best to stay away from it [football], my mind was like ‘I’ve had enough of this now’. Being told ‘no, no, no’ every single time, it can be very bad for your mind.”

He added: “So what I did was I took a holiday, I went away. I didn’t want to associate myself with football, I didn’t want to see football, I didn’t want anything to do with football, I just wanted a break from it.”

Since that emotional night in London Muamba has completed a sports journalism degree and continues to work for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) as a delegate in guiding young players. He’s also completed his UEFA coaching badges and currently leads Rochdale’s under-16 side.

Reflecting on the sudden break-away from the game he loves, Muamba said: “After two months or so [of being told to not play football] I started to see a specialist just to have that daily conversation of me getting over it. It took three years for me to say ‘ok, this is really me done now’. In my head I thought one day they would find a cure for my disease, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Emotionally, he added: “For me it was bittersweet but I’m happy and I’m grateful that I’m still here.”