‘Our thoughts are with Muamba’s family’

Heartbreak: Robert Cooper with girlfriend Amyliegh Jackson
Heartbreak: Robert Cooper with girlfriend Amyliegh Jackson
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THE family of a young South Yorkshire man who dropped dead from a rare heart condition said their thoughts are with stricken football star Fabrice Muamba.

Robert Cooper, aged 25, appeared fit and well when he left his Barnsley home for work one morning in November 2010.

Two hours later the young electrician from Barugh Green was dead, having collapsed suddenly on the building site where he was working.

Tests showed he had suffered dilated cardiomyopathy, a hidden genetic condition which affected the walls of his heart.

Today his mother Susan, 56, said: “There are no words that can describe how Fabrice Muamba’s family must be feeling right now. It’s just terrible.”

Last night Muamba was showing ‘small signs of improvement’ but remained ‘critically ill’, according to the London Chest Hospital.

A joint statement released by Bolton Wanderers and Barts and London NHS Trust said: “His heart is now beating without the help of medication and he is also moving his arms and his legs.

“However, his long-term prognosis will remain unclear for some time.”

Robert Cooper’s sister Sarah O’Mara, 30, said she was in tears as she watched medics attempt to resuscitate the midfielder after he collapsed at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

“We were watching the match on TV and I just welled up when I saw what happened, it just brought what happened to Robert flooding back,” the healthcare assistant said.

It is not yet clear what caused Muamba’s collapse during the FA Cup tie.

Paramedics could not get his heart to start beating on its own for almost two hours after he fell to the ground.

Sarah said: “More people need to be tested for heart conditions, but they can be very hard to spot.”

Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones said: “It puts football into perspective. It is a shocking thing to happen. When you are actually on the pitch, you must be distraught by it.

“Nobody wants to see that happen to anybody. But the emergency people were there very quickly and that was fantastic. They did a fantastic job and that’s all you ask for.

“All our best wishes go out to him and his family. We hope he makes a speedy recovery.”

John Pemberton, manager of Sheffield United’s academy, said: “We heart-screen our youngsters as schoolboys when they become scholars and we closely study the results. Even if there is only a minor problem detected we send them to see specialists.”

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