Bolton Wanderers' Fabrice Muamba lies on the pitch after collapsing before being stretchered off as Tottenham Hotspur's Louis Saha, second right, and referee Howard Webb, left, react for medical staff to come onto the pitch during the English FA Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane stadium in London, Saturday, March 17, 2012. Medics rushed onto the pitch with a defibrillator and treated the 23-year-old Muamba, pumping his chest for around six minutes of treatment. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Updated: March 17, 2012 4:58PM
LONDON— Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba was critically ill in a hospital’s heart attack unit Saturday night after collapsing during a match at Tottenham.
Muamba fell face-down to the field near the halfway line without any players near him. Medics rushed onto the field with a defibrillator and treated the 23-year-old, pumping his chest for around six minutes of treatment before he was rushed to a hospital.
“Fabrice Muamba has been admitted to the heart attack center at London Chest Hospital where he is currently in a critically ill condition in intensive care,” Bolton said in a statement about three hours later. “No further information will be issued at this stage. The club has requested the media to respect his family’s privacy at this time.”
When Muamba collapsed in the 41st minute of the FA Cup quarterfinal, Bolton manager Owen Coyle shouted from the sideline: “He’s just collapsed.”
Tottenham players William Gallas and Louis Saha along with referee Howard Webb immediately beckoned for medical support as the game was immediately stopped, then abandoned.
Some players appeared to be praying as fans chanted his name between periods of silence at White Hart Lane.
After Muamba was carried off on a stretcher to applause from the crowd with an oxygen mask and with his chest still being pumped, all the players also left the field before Webb abandoned the match.
Coyle and forward Kevin Davies were among the Bolton group that accompanied Muamba to the hospital, while the rest of the team returned to northwest England by train.
“Terrible what happened with Muamba during the game,” Rafael van der Vaart, who started for Tottenham, wrote on Twitter. “We’re all praying for him.”
Muamba’s Bolton teammate Stuart Holden, who was watching the game on television, tweeted: “Praying for you Fab.”
“Waiting anxiously for updates from teammates,” he added. “Fab is a fighter!”
Muamba was born in what was then called Zaire on April 6, 1988. His father left the country because of political turmoil and settled in England, and Muamba joined Arsenal’s youth academy in 2002.
He made his debut at age 17 on Oct. 25, 2005, in the League Cup at Sunderland, and was loaned to Birmingham in the League Championship the following season. The loan was made permanent in May 2007, and he made his Premier League debut for Birmingham in 2007-08 before joining Bolton in June 2008.
“I seriously hope my best friend in football is OK. Stay strong bro please please stay strong,” said Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte, who came through the Arsenal youth team with Muamba.
Muamba has been part of England’s youth system and was a member of its team at last year’s European Under-21 Championship, where he came on as a substitute against Ukraine and started against the Czech Republic.
“On behalf of The FA, I would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Fabrice Muamba and his family this evening,” FA Chairman David Bernstein said. “Fabrice has played 33 times for England Under-21s, captaining Stuart Pearce’s side during this time and is a player, and more importantly, a person we care greatly for. We are in contact with Bolton Wanderers over Fabrice’s condition and are awaiting updates.”