The game between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton a few weeks ago reminded supporters around the UK of a simple truth that really shouldn’t be a reminder: there are things more important than football. It shouldn’t have taken a footballer collapsing on the pitch to realise this. Perhaps, in this age of newspapers generating rumours, petulant footballers, spiralling wages and the cold hard pragmatism of football has increased the distance between the fans who turn up to watch and the players paid to provide entertainment for them.

With no-one around him Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch, head buried into the turf with no real sign of movement. Usually when a player goes down at the faintest of touches there’s a chorus of boos and unrelenting abuse. When a footballer falls down with no assist it is extremely disconcerting to see, and for the fans around White Hart Lane and those watching on TV the reaction was one of pained expressions and an (in)audible anxiety: something was very, very wrong.

…Fabrice Muamba is alive today,

So it is a testament to the medical services, the doctors/physios on pitch side and the Spurs supporter who was a doctor from The London Chest Hospital that Fabrice Muamba is alive today, getting better with each day even if a long-term prognosis is still a while away. Their quick reactions and laudable care helped save a man at the age of 23 (the same as me and far fitter) who for 78 minutes was effectively dead. It’s a completely unnerving thought to have but one that ends on a hopeful note as Muamba was resuscitated with (for the moment) no lasting damage. It reminded me of a tagline from Crank 2: High Voltage in which Jason Statham’s Chev Chelios “was dead…but he got better”. Even Hollywood fiction is possible.

And the support, from not only the UK but around the world, has created a genuine sense of togetherness. Whether it is well wishers leaving flowers and notes at Bolton FC’s Reebok Stadium or at The London Chest Hospital or teams/sports-people from around the world sending and displaying messages of sympathy; Muamba’s collapse hit hard and close to home. Footballers aren’t invulnerable and an incident like this could happen again without warning. It’s happened before with sad instances in Marc Vivien-Foe and Anthony Puerta but the shock of the past week’s events have led to future re-evaluation of medical treatment at clubs in England. Perhaps we needed a shot in the arm to remember what’s important.

…continues his remarkable recovery…

So let’s all hope that Muamba continues his remarkable recovery so far and that the outpouring of sympathy has some lasting effect on how we see footballers in this modern era. The events of this week have reminded us that there are many decent things about footballers and supporters around the country. We should not forget them.

Image courtesy of Every Kick



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