The hospital treating Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba has confirmed the player can now recognise family members and respond to their questions.
Forty-eight hours after he collapsed during an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, where he suffered a cardiac arrest, it is the clearest indication yet that Muamba is winning his battle for life.
“Fabrice Muamba remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital and is continuing to show signs of improvement,” said the joint statement released by the London Chest Hospital and Bolton.
“He is now able to breathe independently, without the aid of a ventilator and he is able to recognise family members and respond to questions appropriately. These are positive signs of progress.
“However, his condition remains serious and our medical staff in intensive care will continue to monitor and treat him. His family and club would like to thank the media for continuing to respect their privacy at this time.”
The confirmation follows claims from Curtis Codrington, who says he is a friend of Muamba and is one of only 83 people followed by the player on social networking site Twitter, that he had started speaking in French and English.
Bolton sources have told Press Association Sport that the 23-year-old has made considerable progress and the signs are looking extremely positive for the player.
However, they are cautioning against over-optimism, pointing out that it is not unknown for patients to plateau at this stage and that Muamba remains wired up and is still officially on the critical list.
Nevertheless, the latest updates are more than Bolton’s anxious players, staff and supporters dared hope as medics battled for two hours to get Muamba’s heart beating again after it stopped at White Hart Lane.
The player’s fiancee, Shauna Muamba, wrote on Twitter: “All your prayers are working people thank u so so much. Every prayer makes him stronger. To God be the glory.”