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Stricken Muamba faces 'crucial' 24 hours: Coyle

Bolton manager Owen Coyle said today Fabrice Muamba faces a "crucial" 24 hours as the stricken footballer fights for life in hospital after collapsing during a match against Tottenham.

sports Updated: Mar 18, 2012 15:16 IST

Bolton manager Owen Coyle said on Sunday Fabrice Muamba faces a "crucial" 24 hours as the stricken footballer fights for life in hospital after collapsing during a match against Tottenham.

The 23-year-old Kinshasa-born player was rushed to hospital after harrowing scenes towards the end of the first half at White Hart Lane on Saturday, when the midfielder slumped to the turf with no player near him.

Several paramedics were seen attempting to revive the player before he was rushed off the field in a stretcher after 41 minutes with the scores at 1-1.

Muamba was wearing an oxygen mask and flanked by a number of paramedics and Bolton medical staff as he was carried off the pitch.

Referee Howard Webb called the players off the field before an announcement shortly afterwards that the game had been abandoned.

A joint statement from Bolton and the London Chest Hospital released late Saturday said Muamba was in intensive care.

"Bolton Wanderers can confirm that Fabrice Muamba has been admitted to The Heart Attack Centre at The London Chest Hospital where he is in a critically ill condition in intensive care," the statement said.

Bolton boss Coyle, who accompanied Muamba to the hospital, later gave an update on the player's progress.

"Fabrice is critically ill. The next 24 hours are going to be absolutely crucial," Coyle told Sky News early Sunday.

"We've obviously been inundated with people wishing him well and we hope that if everybody can pray strongly tonight that Fabrice is able to recover.

"It's very serious. There's not getting away from that. He's critically ill and God willing he makes it through."

Players, fans and millions of television viewers had watched in shock on Saturday as paramedics treated Muamba on the ground at White Hart Lane.

Several players from both teams were distraught as the seriousness of the situation became apparent and fans sang Muamba's name as he was treated.

The stricken footballer's condition prompted an avalanche of concern on social-networking site Twitter, with the words "Pray for Muamba" trending hours after he was admitted to hospital.

Muamba's Bolton team-mate Stuart Holden tweeted: "Praying for you Fab. Hope he's OK. Thoughts with him and his family."

Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte -- a former youth team colleague of Muamba's at Arsenal -- posted: "I seriously hope my best friend in football is OK. Stay strong bro please please stay strong."

Britain's Sunday newspapers were united in their anguish for the young player. The Sun on Sunday summed up the situation with the headline: "When football no longer matters."

"Quite rightly our great game of football was forgotten, deemed a ridiculous irrelevance as the horrifying events unfolded," Rob Beasley wrote in the tabloid.

Daniel Taylor of the Guardian described the moment of realisation that Muamba had collapsed as "absolutely terrible".

"There is something deeply chilling when a young, apparently fit, professional footballer can suddenly be face down on the turf," he wrote.

The Mail on Sunday's headline said simply: "Pray for him."

Football Association chairman David Bernstein said: "On behalf of the FA, I would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Fabrice Muamba and his family this evening."

Muamba, who moved to England from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the age of 11 after his father fled the war-torn country, has represented England at schoolboy and under-21 level.

First Published: Mar 18, 2012 15:14 IST