Walking into the first team of a Premier League side as a youth player is daunting enough, but when the team is full of league winners and world champions you’d be forgiven for being a little nervous.

So imagine how Fabrice Muamba must have felt when he first trained with the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp and Arsenal’s ‘Invincible’ side.

It was manager Arsene Wenger who made a lasting impression on the young midfielder though. Regarded as one of the great coaches in the modern game, at that time the Frenchman was enjoying the most successful period of his 22-year tenure in North London.

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Speaking exclusively to UCFB about Wenger, former England under-21 international Muamba said: “Arsene is very calm. When he gave instructions he’d say ‘pay attention, this is what I expect you to do’, then you’d go out there and execute it. If you didn’t know then he’d stop and get involved and tell what you what he expected [again].”

Muamba added: “That’s what the top managers tend to do most of the time, give instructions and let you get on with it, but if you’re struggling then they’ll come in and explain.”

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.  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.

Looking back on his time at Arsenal, who he left for Birmingham City in 2007 in search of regular first team football, and training with the world-class players amongst their ranks, Muamba said: “I think it [training] was much easier because of the quality of players that Arsenal had then. Once Arsene gave an instruction it was almost like those guys just ran with it because they knew what he expected from them.

“Most of them were World Cup winners and Premier League champions, so for us as youth players it was about taking in as much as we could – being there and learning from those guys and listening to what Arsene had to say.”

Muamba added: “Every training session was a huge, huge challenge for everybody and you had to step up your game every single day.”