There was a very special guest at Cobham this afternoon as Fabrice Muamba paid a visit to our training ground in the role of reporter. The former Bolton Wanderers midfielder retired from the game last year, having made a remarkable recovery from the cardiac arrest he suffered in a game against Tottenham in March 2012, and interviewed former team-mate Ryan Bertrand today for a show he co-presents with Congolese comedian Eddie Kadi.
Muamba played with our full-back at international level, initially for England’s Under-19s and then later for the Under-20 and Under-21 sides. He explained what he spoke to Bertrand about and his new life in the media.
‘I work for this television show, which is shown in Africa, where we interview players. Now I’m on the other side as a journalist! It’s pretty cool,’ Muamba told the official Chelsea website.
‘Ryan is a friend of mine. We played together a few times at youth level including for the England Under-21s. I spoke to Ryan about a few things, such as his unbelievable Champions League debut, in the final, and where he’s at in his career at this present moment.
‘He plays and learns under one of, if not the best left-back in the world, Ashley Cole. Ryan also has one of the best coaches around now so it’s good for him and I just hope he can stay injury-free and keep progressing.’
One of Bertrand’s current team-mates, Gary Cahill, played at Bolton with Muamba before his move to Chelsea. The day following Muamba’s life-threatening cardiac arrest Cahill scored for the Blues in an FA Cup win against Leicester, lifting his shirt to reveal a message dedicated to his former team-mate. The pair embraced today and spoke at length, with Muamba joking afterwards about the meeting.
‘I’m most surprised because Gary looks skinnier than what I remember! He was always down the gym. I’m so delighted to see how well he has done, I couldn’t be happier for him. He really deserved the move to a great club and hopefully he can just keep getting better and better.
‘He works extremely hard in training, he always worked on his weaknesses and that’s helped him go so far. He’s in the England team now as well. He’s certainly one of the best defenders I ever played with.’
There was one more Chelsea connection left for Muamba to discuss. Our Under-21 manager Dermot Drummy coached the young Muamba as he was progressing through the Arsenal youth set-up. The 25-year-old paid tribute to one of his former mentors who helped him develop at Arsenal after he left his native Congo as a political refugee.
‘Dermot was a great coach and a great guy. A lot of us came through from that Arsenal youth system and that speaks volumes,’ said Muamba.
‘I am very grateful to Dermot and I really can’t speak highly enough of him. It’s pretty exciting to see where he is now, Under-21 manager at Chelsea, and I hopefully I will get a chance to see him at some point today.’