Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fabrice Muamba

In case you went to Neptune for the weekend and missed this story, Bolton Wanderers' midfielder Fabrice Muamba is currently unconscious in hospital after a sudden cardiac arrest on the pitch during a cup game against Spurs.

You don't have to be a Bolton Wanderers fan to feel for him, but my goodness it helps. 

Only Bolton fans have seen how much he has developed since he arrived three seasons ago and will have speculated how good he'll be in another three seasons. Only Bolton fans will have regularly seen just how much work he puts even into games that everyone else seems to have abandoned.

Only Bolton fans will be aware of just how fit the guy was. In better teams, the defensive midfielders are often spectators - Yaya Toure at Manchester City could get his iphone out and check his email during some of their one-sided games, so little are his skills needed. It's a different matter when you're in a relegation dogfight and your job is to stop the likes of David Silva from doing what he does well. For a full 90 minutes. Running over 7 miles in the process. In other words, Fabrice was properly fit.

Much has written about his role as a defensive rock, but my favourite Fabrice moments are when he goes on the attack.

You see, the opposing players recognise him as a big defensive midfield "enforcer" and he runs like a big man in a hurry -  so they don't expect him to rush forward. When he takes advantage of the element of surprise and barrels past them, I love to see the look of panic on their faces and maybe the thought going through their heads : "Oh. Er. Is he actually allowed to do that ??" There have been quite a few poor Bolton performance rendered watchable by Fabrice-moments such as these.

But you don't need to be a Bolton fan to be stunned close to tears by what has happened to him. Just think that he's 23 -  talented, literate, funny and professional in a sense that isn't common in "professional" footballers. Think that he's a new father with an enormous amount to give to the world and his young family.

I'm not a believer in jinxes, but I couldn't bear to write any of this piece in the past tense. Here's hoping that I'll have a lot more to write about him in the present and future tenses real soon.

Meanwhile, I hope that he and the people close to him realise just how many people who have been touched by his work are now cheering him on.

No comments: