Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Players and fans in Muamba backing

Fabrice Muamba's fans and fellow stars showed their support as his Bolton Wanderers side returned to the pitch

Thousands of football fans clapped and cheered in a show of support for Fabrice Muamba as his Bolton Wanderers side returned to the pitch.

The 23-year-old player remains in the London Chest Hospital, where he was admitted last Saturday after suffering a cardiac arrest during his club's FA Cup quarter-final with Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

At the Reebok Stadium his team-mates took on Blackburn Rovers in a local derby as Wanderers resumed their Premier League campaign.

Players from both sides completed their warm-up with T-shirts emblazoned with "Muamba 6" in tribute to the midfielder as fans chanted his name.

Shortly before kick-off a video was shown on the big screen featuring images of support that have been received during the week. It was followed by a loud burst of applause from both sets of players and fans.

Supporters in the lower tier of the Nat Lofthouse Stand each raised a poster to display a mosaic spelling out "Muamba 6".

Muamba faces a long road to recovery, according to a joint statement released by the player's father Marcel and fiancee Shauna Magunda. "Even though Fabrice has made great progress over the last couple of days, he is still in intensive care, and still has a long period of recovery ahead," read the statement. "He has asked that you please keep him in your prayers."

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has confirmed Fabrice Muamba will remain with the club "as long as he wants". "He will be here as long as he wants to be," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "It is all about Fabrice. It is not a football story. It is a Muamba story."

Muamba's name was also sung out by the crowd at the final whistle as his team-mates celebrated their 2-1 victory with a mass huddle.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle later revealed that Muamba had sent a good luck message to the side. "Fabrice managed to send us a message yesterday through one of the consultants to say he wished the lads well," said Coyle. "It was great when we heard that. Our chairman has been in touch with Marcel this week and I am pretty sure the information about today's game has been passed on to Fabrice."

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