Fabrice Muamba says he has never forgotten those who saved his life after collapsing on the pitch while playing for Bolton
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
As I watched the scenes unfold while Christian Eriksen was receiving life-saving treatment, there was one source of comfort amid the distress.
“If this was going to happen anywhere, it was better for it to happen on a football pitch.”
My experience taught me that. The speed and expertise of the medical staff on the scene rescued me from a cardiac arrest in 2012. As did the skill of all those who rushed me to the London Chest Hospital.
All I could say when watching the television was ‘please Christian, pull through’.
It was such a relief to hear Christian had woken up after a few minutes, and that he was in a stable condition.
Watching it was surreal for me. Naturally, your mind goes back. I was worried about his partner and his children and how awful it must have been to see those images.
The way his team mates protected him was amazing and he will look back upon that as being so important to him and his family.
People often ask me how it feels to go through such a trauma. Honestly? I could not remember what happened to me that day nine years ago. So although people will point to the similarities of this occurring during a professional game, I would not wish to compare everything I have since gone through with Christian’s situation. We do not yet know all the details. I can only speak about my own experiences, and how much I appreciated the incredible medical assistance and the support from the football world.
Muamba collapsed while playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in March 2012
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Unlike Christian, I did not wake up until three days later. From there, although the immediate trauma was over, there were so many more hurdles ahead with tests and counselling.
I did want to play again, clearly, but at first you consider the future thinking more about your family than career. There was so much more to consider before even thinking about playing again, as much as you want to.
You speak to all the specialists, gather all the information and think about what is best for your health, your family and the rest of your life. I still need check-ups every six months. Really, I don’t think I will ever get over what happened that day. It is always in the back of my mind. It is impossible to forget and you need counselling to cope with that.
When we saw the images from Copenhagen, I asked my wife how she dealt with it? She had to take a train from Wilmslow to London that night, not knowing what was happening to me. I still do not know how she coped.
I know how difficult the experience was for team mates, too. It can traumatise those who witness it for the rest of their lives. Some of my ex-Bolton team-mates still say to me, “Fab, I can’t believe you are alive.”
I know a lot of the Danish lads will feel the same and they must be offered counselling.
To this day, I still appreciate so many of the people who helped save me – the first paramedic out of the ambulance, Peter Fisher, Bolton’s former club doctor Jonathan Tobin, Spurs medic Shabaaz Mughal, the specialist doctor Professor Richard Schilling, Dr Andrew Deaner, all the NHS nurses who looked after me and my consultant cardiologist, Dr Sam Mohiddin. I call them all my ‘guardian angels’.
I thought of them as I considered the pressure those professionals in Copenhagen were under on Saturday, knowing the world was watching and themselves having to deal with the emotion of the situation.
Christian will never forget those people. Nor will he forget the outpouring of his support for him. The whole of football came together for Christian. I am sure Christian was on his former team-mate Harry Kane’s mind going into the Croatia game.
It shows the power of football, and the common ground there is between us.
Whatever else happens in this tournament, the best result has already happened if Christian emerges from this healthy.