Muamba retires but remains one of Academy’s greatest graduates

Given that it is less than five months since he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, it still remains something of a miracle that Fabrice Muamba is still alive. It was little surprise, given the severity of the situation, that it was announced today that Muamba, at the age of 24, has been forced to retire from professional football.

The fact that he was able to carve out a career in the Premier League, first for Birmingham City and then Bolton Wanderers, however, means that he will still go down as one of the most significant graduates of the Arsenal Academy since it was granted official status in 1998. Muamba mustered just two senior appearances for the club at which he was reared, both of which came in the League Cup in the 2005/06 season, but he featured regularly for the club’s development sides and featured in Dennis Bergkamp’s Testimonial, the first game at Emirates Stadium, prior to joining Birmingham on loan in a deal which would later become permanent.

Although he was perhaps not of the quality to hold down a starting position at an elite club, Muamba did establish himself as a player capable of performing regularly in the Premier League, making many crunching challenges and using his leggy frame to good effect. It was somewhat fitting that Muamba’s final goal as a professional footballer came against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in the Carling Cup, the very competition in which he was first introduced to professional football.

He departed Arsenal in the summer of 2007, at which time Arsene Wenger had several defensive midfield options at his disposal, including the likes of Mathieu Flamini, Gilberto, Alex Song and Denilson. Having suffered relegation with Birmingham in his first full season with the Midlands club, he made the switch to Bolton four years ago, and went on to make 228 senior appearances during his club career, scoring 6 goals.

Muamba never came close to breaking into the England senior squad, but featured for most of the Three Lions’ development sides and amassed 33 appearances at under-21 level, the joint second most appearances for that age group.

It is a shame that the midfielder, who moved to England from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been forced to retire so early in his career, but he will always be remembered as one of the most promising players that the Academy has produced.



  1. Really seems like a nice genuine guy. Must feel dejected having to retire at such an early age but shouls feel proud of what he has and could have achieved. On another note our u15s beat dagenham and redbidge 16-1!

  2. Very sad but he is alive most dont come out of that situation hopefully he can do something in football … best of luck to him.

    RVP going to Utd decent price good contract for him just hate the fact he will play for them, really questions did he ver care about the club??? just my opinion

  3. I was hoping that Muamba wouldn’t have to retire, but having seen similar injuries to players in other sports, I knew it was likely. Hopefully Bolton, Arsenal, or both can offer him some sort of role in the game of football!!! I doubt we would leave him out in the cold. He’s such a great character, that he could have taught some of our first team players a thing or two about character.

  4. Muamba seems to have a positive attitude and desire for football, so hopefully he gets scouting or coaching jobs when he feels healthy enough. Perhaps also some kind of community work in England and Africa, too.

    1. And why is that? Just like any employee Robin has tested his market value and hopefully gets an excellent last fat contract. It’s a win-win-win situation: Arsenal gets very good money, Robin gets a great contract in a traditional world top 3 club and United gets an excellent player. Everybody wins!

      I wish Robin good luck in his future career and thanks for his services to Arsenal over the years!

      Every human being has a price and the contracts can be bought out. Even Messi is available with a certain amount of money. All kinds of “loyalty” and “greed” talk is absolute nonsense. Every employee around the world looks around and tries to find out his/her job market value. In football it’s easier to find out than elsewhere.

      1. You need to take a good hard look at yourself. Fair enough if you think talk of loyalty in football is cheap.

        But how about respect, do you think Van Persie has behaved with respect towards Arsene Wenger, towards the fans, towards his teammates?

        What about gratitude? Do you think Van Persie has shown gratitude to the club and manager for taking him as a problematic, unwanted young player, keeping faith in him through all the years he spent injured, and finally turned him into the player he could become?

        If you think Van Persie owes us nothing and has behaved well towards the club then you are beyond help.

      2. Wrenny, Robin chose not to sign a new contract. It has nothing to do with loyalty. Would you yourself stay in the same company for the whole of your working life even though you would know there are better career opportunities elsewhere? Robin loves Arsenal, but his career is ending soon and decisions must be made.

        Well, respect… show me even one professional footballer and manager who deserves respect. Just a few seconds into the new season and the disgusting moaning and whining starts all over again. The referee teams are doing the best quality work in football industry and still these idiots (players, managers, media, fans) are showing disrespectful behaviour.

        Robin surely is grateful for everything that Arsenal and Arsene has done for him! The transfer to a rival club doesn’t change that fact! It was a time to take the last final career decision and Robin chose the best solution. He doesn’t owe anyone anything (probably not even the bank). He has been a good employee at the club and that’s it.

        Robin (just like any other professional footballer, manager, media muppet and unfortunately too many so-called “fans”) hasn’t behaved respectfully both on and off the pitch. There are only a handful smart, decent and respectful people in football world. Most of the football people should be ashamed about their disgusting behaviour when compared to other sports.

      3. “Robin loves Arsenal”? That’s priceless, can you please explain to me how he has demonstrated this love for the Arsenal?

        “show me even one professional footballer and manager who deserves respect.”
        There are numerous, none more so than our own manager who has received precisely zero respect from the player who ought to have shown him the most.

        You appear to have deluded yourself into believing Robin’s claptrap and excused his behaviour because every other footballer is the same so that makes it alright. And that he has only tried to find the best deal for himself, but you willfully ignore the deceitful, back stabbing manner in which he’s gone about it compared to other players who have left us but done so quietly and with thanks.

  5. I hope Fabrice finds a way to be involved in the game he obviously loves so much in some capacity.

    If not, he has his missus and his kid and his health.

    Good luck dude.

  6. It’s not exactly unexpected, Muamba was always likely to have to retire. It must be very disappointing for him to have to give up what he loves doing but at at least he’s alive and can still have a career in football if he so wishes.

    Van Persie – good riddance to bad rubbish. It appears that after we bought Cazorla the ungrateful snake suddenly thought little old Arsenal might be good enough for him after all, and Wenger promptly told him he’s no longer in his plans and would be sold. I wish I could have seen the prick’s face! Amazing what success does to people, he really thought he could say what he did and then just crawl back without a hint of an apology and Wenger and co. would welcome him back with open arms. The arrogance of the man. It’s just a shame we didn’t find out his real character years ago, imagine if we had got rid of glass legs back when he couldn’t stay fit longer than a couple of months, where would his career be now?

    We’ve done a terrific bit of business. £24m for a 29 year old with a terrible injury past, 1 year left on his contract, and had just one world class season in 8 years with us. We got Giroud AND Podolski for less than that. If we can spend some or all of that on one or two quality players before Sept 1st we look very strong. I just hope the Song to Barca rumours aren’t true, to me that would be a real blow. He has 3 years left on his deal so we don’t need to sell; if we do it’s probably because Wenger wants to sell him and has someone better lined up to replace him.

  7. Wrenny, where did you find out the Van Persie wanted to return after we bought Cazorla??? I can’t find that anywhere!!! I’d believe it though, he is a big enough prick to do that. I’m fine with him leaving. The only thing that worries me is that we DON’T know how well Podolski and Giroud will do over a full season WITH US. We’ll just have to find out!!!:D

    Song doesn’t worry me either. We showed enough in the first half of the Koln match that we can get by without him. Again though, we don’t know how well Coquelin will play over a full year, but it MIGHT be time we found out how good he actually is. I know this sounds strange, but with Arteta, Diaby, Chamberlain, Coquelin, Cazorla, and eventually Wilshere, we have enough defensive minded play-makers that they can cover the defense if someone from the midfield pushes forward. I know there is a difference between a deep-lying play-maker, and a defensive midfielder, BUT Arteta is more capable defensively than either Xavi or Pirlo, and Chamberlain is showing an eye for that side play as well!!!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, if worse comes to worse, we might not even play with a recognized defensive midfield player at all if Coquelin isn’t playing. I’m actually not against this, as we’d almost be back to a 4-4-2 because we never played with an out and out defensive midfielder then either. Both central midfield players assisted the defense, and would only attack if one was already covering. That attitude would be carried in to a different formation like the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. And like Wenger has said…the BEST midfield players are the ones who can do EVERYTHING. SONG CAN’T!!!

    1. Van Persie’s change of mind – It’s on the BBC article by David Ornstein, he’s been very reliable with Arsenal information over the years.

      I’d be considerably worried about losing Song. He’s not just our most robust and defensive minded midfielder but also a source of many assists. He’s not irreplaceable, but he’s not easily replaceable either! And any player who comes in, such as the much talked about M’Vila, wouldn’t be able to instantly adapt to a new club and a new league at the age of 21. That’s assuming we would go for a similar sort of player because as you quite rightly point out, a typical ‘enforcer’ type of player isn’t necessarily required. Since Man Utd have lost Fletcher they haven’t had one, they’ve played a lot with a midfield duo of Carrick and Scholes who are two distributors like Arteta. They are both very experienced, read the game very well, and are technically excellent, so they’re always a step ahead. They don’t need to put in hard tackles or run miles, they just get in excellent positions to block the passing angles and make interceptions.

  8. £24 million for a 29 year old, who of course scores a lot of goals but also misses an aweful lot of sitters as well and who has lost any pace that he has ever had. Unfortunate to lose but good business.

    1. I agree, we got the maximum value of this sale for sure. I hope this means we can sign one or two more class players. This is the time to add quality and we still got players on the team who are gonna leave. We need new players. If Song leave us this season I will be very sad. He is much more value than RVP is for the team. I can’t come up with any names that will replace Song.

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