Football star’s plight brought back nightmare for local family

Share this article

THE father of a teenager who collapsed and stopped breathing during a football match has told of the horror of watching a Premiership footballer collapse on a pitch with a heart attack.

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba, 23, fell to the ground and lay prone during Saturday’s game at Tottenham Hotspur after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The FA Cup tie was abandoned as medics fought to save his life on the pitch and he remains in intensive care.

Denis McNeill said that the “horrific” incident had been unsettling for his son, Chris, who survived after collapsing with a cardiac arrest in a Milk Cup game just eight months ago.

The Dalriada School head boy, who was 17 at the time of the incident last July, underwent a four-hour operation to repair his heart after a doctor with a defibrillator helped save his life on the pitch.

Mr McNeill said he had heard of Muamba’s collapse from his son, who showed him a news report on his phone.

“We exchanged knowing looks – we’re still uncomfortable with the situation but we watched it on the news as a family and heard the horrific story,” he said.

“Christopher’s older sister Emma was a bit upset because it almost felt, looking at the news coverage, that we were looking at shots of ourselves.

“Christopher went down in the same way as Muamba and the horror on the faces of the players around him, watching what happening to their colleague on the pitch, brought back terrible memories of last July.”

Mr McNeill said that he wanted to extend his family’s condolences to the family of Muamba because they “know exactly what has happened and we just hope that he pulls through”.

Mr McNeill said that his son was now “very well”.

He said that he had recently passed his driving test and was finishing his A-Levels, having performed well in the modules which he has completed.

He said that his son has no memory of what happened to him last July, so witnessing Saturday’s disturbing scenes meant it was “very unsettling for him” [Chris] as it was like watching what he believed he would have looked like on the pitch last year.

Paramedics spent six minutes trying to resuscitate Muamba on the pitch after he fell to the ground with no other players around him.

It took two hours for his heart to begin working again by itself when he reached hospital.

As a packed White Hart Lane looked on, with a worldwide audience watching live coverage on ESPN, players prayed on the pitch for the midfielder as medics battled to save his life.