WHEN MUAMBA MET MAKA
Fabrice Muamba has revealed details of the time he first met compatriot Claude Makelele (pictured above) during a Barclays Premier League game against Chelsea.
The former Bolton player, whose heart stopped for 78 minutes when he collapsed during an FA Cup game against Tottenham last season, but was subsequently saved after receiving emergency treatment on the pitch from medical personnel - including a consultant cardiologist who was at the game as a fan - and was rushed to a coronary care unit at the London Chest Hospital.
He made a remarkable recovery that has engrossed and enthralled both the footballing and wider world, and in Fabrice Muamba: I'm Still Standing, he recalls the events of that day and a career that promised much more.
Previously with Birmingham City, Muamba remembers a visit to Stamford Bridge and an encounter with the great Makelele that brought an unlikely friendship.
He writes: 'When we played Chelsea one season I was speaking in French on the pitch when we were defending a corner. It's as noisy as anything and we're all trying to get organised when before you know it Makelele looks at me and, speaking in French, goes: "Where are you from?" I told him I was from Congo and he was delighted. "Are you really? As in Kinshasa, Congo? Wow, it's nice to meet you!" All this is going on as the chaos of the Premier League unfolded around us.
'After the game I was getting changed when I was summoned into the Chelsea dressing room. One of their backroom staff came in and said "Claude wants a word." Uh-oh, I've been summoned. I walked into their dressing room and sat next to him - me in my shirt, him in his playing shorts and nothing else.
'"Nice to meet you properly," he said. He then gave me his playing shirt and plenty of advice about life at the very top. It was a nice touch from a good man.
'"You try really hard," he said. "Thanks," I replied. "I've got no choice but to."'
Muamba also covers his first visit to Stamford Bridge, five years ago.
'I must admit I was scared early on in the game - I was daunted by the occasion. I couldn't even do my usual trick of banging someone early on because I couldn't get near them!
'The speed and the skill involved in the game was like nothing else I had ever experienced. It was a different world and technically a real step up. You have to be sharper mentally and physically.'
A life affirming tale, this incredible story of a boy who fled Congo in 1994 without a word of English, who went on to become a Premier League star and touch millions, will surprise and fascinate you.
Fabrice Muamba: I'm Still Standing is available now for £12.99 through Trinity Mirror Sport Media.