The Bill Shankly quote is among one of the most renowned phrases in the sport. To be exact, the words he said were "Someone said 'football is more important than life and death to you' and I said 'Listen, it's more important than that'." But today, during the FA Cup Quarter final between Spurs and Bolton, we saw how the beautiful game almost did see life and death flash before its eyes.
It was the 40th minute; Bale had played the ball out for a goal kick with the score at 1-1. But when Ádám Bogdán received the ball, he seemed reluctant to continue proceedings, for he had noticed teammate Fabrice Muamba lying face flat on the turf. A few moments later, it was revealed that this was no ordinary injury as the medical staff of both sides flocked to the pitch to try and aid the former Arsenal midfielder. After 10 minutes of struggle to try and resuscitate the player, they managed to stretcher him off, quickly followed by the abondoning of the game by Howard Webb. Bolton later confirmed that Muamba had suffered a heart attack and was now critically ill in hospital.
This was not the first time a football stadium has witnessed such horrific scenes. In late 2007, Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell collapsed after suffering a seizure towards the end of a game against Celtic. After attempts to revive him after being transferred to an ambulance, he was pronounced dead shortly after in one of the most traumatic experiences football has ever witnessed, mirroring that of Marc Vivien-Foe's death during an international match versus France four years earlier.
It is important to remember that Muamba is in a stable condition (at the present moment of writing this article, according to Sky Sports). He has not suffered the fate of O'Donnell and Foe, but his collapse was similar to those of the sadly deceased. Steve Robinson, a season ticket holder for Spurs and heart surgeon who was at the match, revealed on his twitter account that he has strongly campaigned for the heart screenings of all professional athletes prior to today’s events, saying that this may prevent the scenes at White Hart Lane from ever reoccurring. O'Donnell and Foe are said to have a condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a condition where "the heart muscle becomes thick [and] the thickening makes it harder for blood to leave the heart, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood". Although it has yet to be confirmed if Muamba has the same condition, this issue could have been brought to light sooner if it were for Robinson's screening initiative.
Despite this being a dark day for football, it has also shown the outstanding support that the followers have for the sport. When Muamba was receiving treatment, there were times of respected silence from the crowd, before suddenly erupting into magnificent chants of 'Fabrice Muamba'. Not only were the away fans showing respect for their No. 6, but the Tottenham fans were showing equally enough admiration, proving that football fans alike can unite in times of crisis.
BeeTeeSports wishes Fabrice a speedy recovery.