‘Big smiles’ from heart scare footballer as he celebrates birthday

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Footballer Fabrice Muamba is continuing to make “strong and steady improvements” in his recovery from a cardiac arrest.

Midfielder Muamba, who has just celebrated his 24th birthday, collapsed on the pitch in the first half of Bolton’s FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham on March 17, with the game subsequently being abandoned. The former England Under-21 international received treatment on the field before being carried off on a stretcher and taken to the London Chest Hospital.

It has since emerged that it took 78 minutes for his heart to start working on its own again, but Muamba has made great progress since then and a week ago a picture of him sitting up in his hospital bed and smiling was posted on Twitter.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle confirmed the player, who turned 24 yesterday, was on his feet and walking around the corridors of the intensive care unit he has been staying in.

Yesterday a joint statement from the club, Barts and the London NHS Trust said: “Fabrice Muamba continues to make strong and steady improvements and remains in the intensive care unit of the London Chest Hospital.”

Coyle said: “He has done some short periods of walking down the corridor he is in as part of the unit, staying in intensive care. He is taking steps, talking and has that big smile which we love to see, so he is certainly progressing the right way. A couple of players have been sending him messages and we are keeping in touch. It has been great to see that smile and he continues to get better.

“We have to stress that he still has a long way to go, but the improvement has been remarkable and long may that continue.”