Heart attack survivor and ex-Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba insists he would love to play football again but admits his health is his primary concern.
Muamba, 25, suffered an on-pitch cardiac arrest last March during an FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, his heart stopping for 78 minutes.
The former Trotters star will start May’s Bupa Great Manchester Run but believes his main focus is upon he and wife Shauna’s second child, due in June.
“I feel in great shape, good enough to play the game I love,” he said. “But I have learnt that there are bigger and better things in life than playing football.
“Of course I do miss playing and think about it a lot, but I’m taking it one day at a time and looking to the future, not the past.
“We are really looking forward to the arrival of our second baby and like any parent we are just hoping and praying that it will arrive in full health.”
Muamba – now with a pacemaker – retired from professional football on medical advice last August and has since backed campaigns to get defibrillators installed in public places.
For the Great Manchester Run, Muamba will have a team of 25 people – including Bolton’s club chaplain, Phil Mason – running for Arrhythmia Alliance’s ‘Hearts and Goals’ campaign.
Previous starters of the event include cricketer Andrew Flintoff, Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis, and Manchester United legends Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson.
In addition, the ex-Whites star is appealing for people to ‘Run for Muamba’ in soccer shirts in celebration of his incredible recovery and a show of unity.
“I am calling on all football fans to put their rivalry and differences aside and unite to raise money for great causes across the UK,” he said.
“It is amazing what can be achieved when we do this. I am delighted to be involved in this fantastic event and I urge people across the UK to sign-up and get involved too.
“You can raise money for a great cause, or you can do it just to keep fit – whatever your motivation, I look forward to waving you off at the starting line.”
Muamba’s sentiments are echoed by event organisers Nova, with communications director David Hart delighted the former England under-21 international accepted their invitation.
“We’d love to see football fans showing their support for both him and ‘Hearts and Goals’ at the Bupa Great Manchester Run,” he said.
“Like everybody else, we were willing Fabrice to pull through last March and the fact that he is here is a real cause for celebration.”