British soccer manager, Owen Coyle, of Bolton Wanderers has led a chorus of requests from players and fans around the world asking people to pray for midfielder Fabrice Muamba, after he collapsed with cardiac arrest during a game Saturday. Attempts to revive the player took place on the pitch, as well as in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, after he stopped breathing, and Muamba is now in critical condition at the London Chest Hospital.
The tragedy struck 41 minutes into an FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Bolton Wanderers and Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur. With the game standing at 1-1 Muamba suddenly fell to the ground with no other players around him.
Within seconds players from both sides were calling on medical staff, and the seriousness of the situation very quickly became clear to the more than 30,000 fans in the stadium as well as thousands more watching live on the ESPN.
Paramedics quickly tried to turn the player over onto his back, as he had collapsed face down. TV cameras then quickly pulled away from the scene as the severe nature of the incident became more apparent. However, the stunned faces of players and fans, who were witnessing attempts to revive the player, told the story.
Medics spent six minutes trying to resuscitate the former England under-21 international on the pitch, giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and also using a defibrillator twice.
Both sets of supporters chanted Muamba's name as he was taken off the pitch on a stretcher in a show of support, however, the player was reportedly still not breathing as he was taken into the tunnel away towards an ambulance.
Referee Howard Webb then abandoned the game following a quick consultation with Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, and Bolton's Coyle.
Medics did manage to get the player's heart working again later, but his condition is still described as critical.
A joint statement from the club and hospital on Sunday at 1100 GMT said: "Fabrice Muamba remains in a critical condition in intensive care.
"As is normal, he remains anaesthetized and will be for at least 24 hours."
The statement added: "Fabrice received prolonged resuscitation at the ground and on route to The London Chest Hospital, where his heart eventually started working. His condition continues to be closely monitored by the cardiac specialists."
Bolton manager Owen Coyle said: "Fabrice's family have asked me to pass on their thanks for the many, many kind messages of support from not only Bolton fans but also fans from clubs across the country and abroad. All our thoughts and prayers are for Fabrice and his family at this time. The family would also like to thank the media for respecting their privacy at this time."
Coyle had earlier stated: "The next 24 hours are going to be absolutely crucial. It's very serious. There's no getting away from that. He's critically ill, and, God willing, he makes it through."
Muamba was born in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) but moved to England aged 11, where he went on to show himself as one of the most promising young soccer players in the country, representing England's under 21 team.
Members of Muamba's family and his fiancee attended the hospital on Saturday night.
BBC's Football Focus presenter Dan Walker managed to get an update from Bolton's captain Kevin Davies on Saturday evening.
"Encouragingly, he [Davies] said Fabrice is showing real fight which is the best possible news," Walker said.
"Kevin says he is not giving up and he's digging in and showing a bit of battle. The fact they got him breathing again makes you marvel at the work these paramedics, doctors and nurses do."
Arsenal defender Johan Djourou, who previously played with Muamba, posted on Twitter that he had visited his friend in hospital, tweeting: "Just left the hospital. Love you so much man! Keep fighting. Everybody please pray for him he's an amazing man and friend."
Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden also tweeted: "Praying for you Fab. Hope he's OK. Thoughts with him and his family. For all those asking, I know as much as you do. Waiting anxiously for updates from teammates. Fab is a fighter!"
Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe also joined the call for prayer: "Pray for Fab. God willing he will pull through."
Tottenham defender Kyle Walker tweeted: "Doesn't matter who you support. Doesn't matter if you aren't a football fan. Doesn't matter if you aren't religious. Pray for Fabrice Muamba."
Manchester United and England star striker Wayne Rooney also tweeted: "Hope Fabrice Muamba is OK. Praying for him and his family. Still in shock."
Bolton manager Coyle said, "We've obviously been inundated with people wishing him well, and we hope that if everybody can pray strongly that Fabrice is able to recover."