holding up cards spelling out Muamba 6 for recovering midfielder Fabrice
Muamba (who wears the No.6 on his jersey) before last Saturday's match
against Blackburn, which the hosts won 2-1.
IN A perverse way, Fabrice Muamba may have saved Bolton Wanderers from relegation.
An entire city has rallied behind the group of footballers, who themselves are playing for a greater cause.
A near sell-out crowd of 27,000 - a rarity at
the Reebok Stadium - witnessed a gutsy performance from the Trotters
Against fierce local rivals
Blackburn Rovers, they pulled off just their second win in seven English
Premier League games in the relegation six-pointer.
I saw a fire in the players' eyes that day which was missing in recent weeks.
Here, they were playing in front of a packed
home crowd who had put together an amazing tribute for Muamba with
songs, flags and giant banners.
If ever they needed a reason to fight against relegation, this was it.
This was not a team which had gone four away matches without scoring a single goal.
This was not a team who have lost a league-worst 19 out of their 29 league fixtures.
This, however, was a team - a word I keep emphasising - that have banded together for one of their own.
As Muamba continues his amazing recovery from a cardiac arrest, his teammates are fighting their own battle on the pitch.
They have decided to use this tragedy as
motivation to keep Bolton in the top flight. When Muamba returns to the
club somewhere down the road, they want it to be as a Premier League
player, not in the lower divisions.
Seeing your comrade fight for his life on the
field is a traumatic experience, which I unfortunately witnessed
first-hand a few years ago.
When I played for Singapore Armed Forces FC in
an AFC Cup match against South China FC in Hong Kong, one of their
young players suddenly collapsed right next to me.
He had swallowed his tongue and was shaking
uncontrollably, a painful vision that I will never forget for the rest
of my life. Thankfully, he survived after some magnificent work from the
But it was a sad reminder that, even for fit veterans like myself, we should cherish every second of our time on the field.
The first thought that went through my head
after that incident was 'that could have been me', and there's not much I
can do about it.
Some people can take months, or even years, to move on from such an unnerving and eye-opening experience.
That's why I applaud each and every Bolton
player for making themselves available for selection against Blackburn.
They had the option of sitting out the clash, but not one of them took
And that brings me back to the word 'team'.
Like the popular TV series Band Of Brothers, Kevin Davies and company
have taken up arms for a comrade in need.
Currently in 17th place, they have nine games left to avoid the bottom three spots in the league. I feel they will do it.
Because for all the amazing support they've
received in recent days, the biggest fan egging them on is a certain
23-year-old resting on a hospital bed in London.