Emotional Muamba 'gets closure' with return to scene of heart seizure

Story highlights

  • Fabrice Muamba receives standing ovation as he returns to White Hart Lane for first time
  • Muamba collapsed at the London soccer stadium during a match in March
  • His heart stopped for 78 minutes, but he was saved by a cardiologist from the crowd
  • Muamba is raising awareness for heart problems since being forced to retire

Soccer player Fabrice Muamba has made an emotional first return to the ground where he suffered a career-ending heart seizure in March.

The 24-year-old wiped away tears after being allowed to address the fans at Tottenham's White Hart Lane during the English team's European match on Thursday.

At halftime, Muamba came onto the same pitch where he collapsed while playing for his former club Bolton eight months ago -- his heart stopped for 78 minutes but he was resuscitated and later made a remarkable recovery in hospital.

However, the Zaire-born England under-21 international was unable to resume his playing career and he officially quit the game in August.

"I can't express... All I can say is thanks to the Tottenham fans for the way they reacted," said Muamba, who had earlier been at London's O2 Arena to watch tennis star Roger Federer in action.

"There are people out there who prayed for me. I want to thank the chairman, and to all the Spurs fans. I am grateful to them. They are awesome fans.

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"Today I wanted to visit that place one more time for closure."

Before Thursday's Europa League match against Maribor, Tottenham's website hailed Muamba as an "inspiration" and referred to his work with the "Hearts & Goals" campaign -- which aims to give communities across the UK access to 500 new defibrillators, as well as training.

"Amazing day at WHL tonight. Thank you guys for everythings spurs fans tonight were awesome. Thank you," Muamba wrote on Twitter -- the web platform where his then fiancee and now wife Shauna kept fans around the world updated about his recovery.

"So proud of my husband @fmuamba for his fighting spirit and courage. Also proud of the humanity in the UK the support has been amazing," she wrote on Thursday after the match.

He earlier revealed: "Off to white hart lane, for the first time the incident happen. I am so nervous is unreal. Hope spurs win tonight."

Muamba got his wish, as Tottenham beat Slovenian side Maribor 3-1 to bounce back from two Premier League defeats and boost the club's hopes of progressing in the second-tier European competition.

Muamba's longtime friend, England international striker Jermain Defoe, scored all three goals for Tottenham to put the club second in Group J behind Italian side Lazio -- which also won, 3-0 against Greece's Panathinaikos.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas was not in charge when Muamba collapsed, but he welcomed the former Birmingham and Arsenal player in his prematch program notes.

"What happened to Fabrice at this stadium eight months ago has obviously changed his life forever," Villas-Boas wrote.

"Everyone in the game and the wider footballing world was delighted to see him make a full recovery. We are thrilled to have him here tonight and I would like to wish him the very best for the future."

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