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Stricken Soccer Player Fabrice Muamba Continues Recovery

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There is good news to report on Fabrice Muamba, the soccer player in Britain who went into cardiac arrest during a big game last Saturday in London.

Muamba, a 23-year-old from Congo, collapsed on the field as his team, Bolton, was playing English Premier League rival Tottenham. The Bolton club doctor, Jonathan Tobin, says the stricken player failed to respond to multiple defibrillator shocks, and that 78 minutes elapsed before Muamba's heart started beating on its own again.

"He was, in effect, dead in that time," Tobin told the BBC.

But by Tuesday evening, Muamba was well enough to tell Tobin he was recovering. On Wednesday, doctors spoke about the player's condition and Muamba's team posted an account of what they said. Some highlights follow.

"I went to see Fabrice last night. I went in and he said, 'Hi, doc,' " said Tobin. "I asked him how he was and he said, 'Fine.' "

Tobin remembers racing onto the field and becoming entirely focused on Muamba. "It wasn't until 35,000 voices united to chant Fabrice Muamba's name that anything from the outside environment penetrated into that focus. I heard them singing," the doctor recalled.

Tobin says Muamba's early signs of recovery have continued, but cautions that these are the "very first steps along a very long pathway."

Muamba has also communicated with Andrew Deaner, a cardiologist and Tottenham fan who was in the crowd and rushed on to the pitch to help last Saturday.

Deaner says that when he visited Muamba in the hospital, he whispered into his ear, and asked his name. "Muamba", came the reply. Deaner then said: "I understand you're a very good footballer."

"I try," replied Muamba.

[NPR's Phillip Reeves is covers Europe out of London.]

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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