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Muamba returns to Bolton

Fabrice Muamba was reduced to tears at the outpouring of support when he returned to the Bolton ground for the first time since his cardiac arrest on March 17. Muamba walked alone onto the pitch before Bolton’s match against Tottenham to resounding chants from both sets of fans.

Admitting that he wished he could be playing, Muamba said he was recovering slowly but steadily. "I'm getting stronger every day," he said. "I'm happy to be back, happy to see the fans outside. I'm overwhelmed by the support."

Muamba has been impressed and moved by the messages of solidarity he has received from his club and well-wishers from football in the UK and all over the world. "This is a special place – if you play for this football club you'll know how special it is – the support I've got has overwhelmed me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you – not just the Bolton fans but the whole country. I'm just grateful I can walk again and do things normally again. I wish I was playing."

The Bolton manager Owen Coyle said it was an emotional occasion, but couldn’t predict whether Muamba could ever return as a player. "I think it is too early to say," Coyle responded. "He's certainly going in the right direction in terms of improving and that'll be something that is in consultation with the medical people."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was also delighted to see Muamba back. "To see him here tonight with a smile on his face is absolutely brilliant. That's what life's about."

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