They willed ‘Fab’ to survive

Man in charge: Howard Webb was the ref when Fabrice Muamba collapsed
Man in charge: Howard Webb was the ref when Fabrice Muamba collapsed
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HOWARD Webb spoke for the first time today of how he sensed the power of 35,000 fans who were willing stricken star Fabrice Muamba to survive, as doctors fought to save his life.

The 2010 World Cup Final referee said he had “never known anything like it” as he revealed his emotions over the incident at Tottenham when the 23-year-old Bolton midfielder collapsed with a heart attack just before half-time of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final.

Fabrice Muamba

Fabrice Muamba

“My overriding memory is of the crowd reaction to it all when, suddenly, they all realised the seriousness of the situation,” said the man from Rotherham regarded as football’s No 1 referee.

“Firstly, they went very quiet. It was as if they all knew it was really serious.Then I could almost sense them encouraging him and then willing someone to get a doctor.

“When the doctor arrived and started working on Fabrice, the crowd reaction was amazing; it was as if they were almost pushing with the doctor and willing him to get Fabrice’s heart going.

“Certainly I felt for the doctor and I think every

body did. Here he was in front of what, 35,000 people, trying to save someone’s life. I think we all felt for him doing that in that situation. The crowd really were pushing for him; they were chanting Fabrice’s name, and I’ve never known anything like it because the crowd reaction to that, and afterwards, was amazing.”

He added: “I just caught the back end of the collapse and didn’t know what had happened and saw Luka Modric looking as bemused as I was.

“Some players nearby were distraught whilst Fabrice was being worked on - Jermain Defoe knows him well. I decided to get everyone off and we could all gather our thoughts. The decision to abandon the game was the only right and proper one to take.”