Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It Can Be No Surprise If Sometimes the Human Body Rebels; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It Can Be No Surprise If Sometimes the Human Body Rebels; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Gutteridge

THE shocked faces of the 30,000 spectators said it all. This was no longer a game, it was a moment of human tragedy: at stake was not a trophy, but a young man's life.

One moment the crowd had been shouting at their heroes, groaning at their mistakes, mocking their opponents, then, suddenly, there was a confused hush.

A Bolton player far away from the action was lying face down in the grass. The television commentator spotted him and the cameras zoomed in. Had he taken a bad knock? No, he had simply collapsed.

Within moments the commentator's tone grew sombre. Despite having a bank of high definition close-up cameras at his disposal, the producer of the television coverage held on to a wide shot. In his control van parked outside the ground, he could see on the other cameras how six paramedics were frantically trying to revive the player. As they tried to From time to chant went ground, the calling out 'Fabrice restart his heart with a defibrillator, the director pointed his cameras at the crowd: people were clinging to each other in disbelief, weeping, willing the young man to get up, hardly believing the reality of the situation just a few yards in front of them. What should have been a terrible private moment of personal crisis was being enacted in full public display. From time to time, a chant went round the ground, the whole crowd calling out his name: "Fabrice Muamba".

Just 23, Fabrice was born in Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. His father fled the country with his family during the chaos following the military coup against the dictator Mobutu.

Fabrice was 11 when he was uprooted to East London, speaking not a word of English. Yet he passed 10 GCSEs as well as A-levels in English, French and Maths. Meanwhile, his real passion was football. He was good - fast, with exceptional control - and was snapped up straight into the English top flight. …

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