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Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba announces his retirement at 24

Photo taken on  May 5, 2012 shows Bolton

Photo taken on May 5, 2012 shows Bolton Wanderers’ player Fabrice Muamba (L) with his girlfriend Shauna Magunda (R) before the FA Cup final football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London. Muamba has retired from playing professional football on health grounds, the English second-tier club said on their website Thursday. The 24-year-old collapsed during a match away to Tottenham Hotspur in March and his heart then stopped beating for 78 minutes. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

AFP/Getty Images

This really cannot surprise anyone – but it remains an unfortunate conclusion to a wistful tale:

On the one hand, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba is alive today. For that we should all be thankful. And yet it’s hard to watch a well-regarded figure walk away so early.

Muamba, who survived cardiac arrest during an FA Cup contest last spring, has announced his retirement. He was near death that day at White Hart Lane in London, his heart having stopped before being rescued by medics and an off-duty heart specialist.

Muamba, 24, had hoped to get back on the field. Rather, medical specialists have recommended that he quit now. From a statement released this morning by Bolton FC:

As part of my ongoing recovery, last week I travelled to Belgium to seek further medical advice from a leading cardiologist. But the news I received was obviously not what I had hoped it would be and it means I am now announcing my retirement from professional football.

“Football has been my life since I was a teenage boy and it has given me so many opportunities. Above all else, I love the game and count myself very lucky to have been able to play at the highest level.

“While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for. 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.

“I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career, and the Bolton fans who have been incredible. I am blessed to have the support of my family and friends at this time.”