BOLTON, England (AP) - Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba retired from soccer Wednesday after suffering an on-field cardiac arrest in March during an FA Cup quarterfinal match against Tottenham.
Muamba travelled to Belgium last week to seek medical advice from a cardiologist after consultations in Britain and Europe, and was advised to retire from playing at the professional level.
"While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for," Muamba said. "I thank God that I am alive and I pay tribute once again to the members of the medical team who never gave up on me."
Muamba collapsed to the field in north London on March 17. Andrew Deaner, a cardiologist who was in the stands, rushed on to the field to help treat him.
Muamba's heart stopped beating on its own for 78 minutes, but started again after arriving at the London Chest Hospital. He was discharged on April 16.
In May, Muamba returned to Bolton's Reebok stadium to a standing ovation and tearfully acknowledged the crowd.
"Football has been my life since I was a teenage boy and it has given me so many opportunities," Muamba said. "Above all else, I love the game and count myself very lucky to have been able to play at the highest level.
"I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career, and the Bolton fans who have been incredible."
Bolton manager Owen Coyle praised Muamba's character during his recovery.
"Everyone has seen what a fighter and strong person he is in mind and body," Coyle said. "We know that he will go on to achieve great things and within all this disappointment, the most important thing is that he is here, alive, today."
The 24-year-old Muamba began his career at London club Arsenal before joining Birmingham in 2007. He signed for Bolton the following year.
Muamba played 211 games in all competitions during his professional career, scoring six goals.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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