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Fabrice Muamba says Brighton star must see ‘bigger picture’Fabrice

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Muamba says Brighton midfielder Enock Mwepu must remember the “bigger picture” after being forced to retire.

Zambia’s Mwepu, 24, ended his playing career earlier this week because of a hereditary heart condition.

The Premier League club said playing on would have carried an “extremely high risk” of endangering Mwepu’s life.

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Muamba, whose own career ended after he suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Bolton in 2012, is relieved that experts detected the issue.

“He’s allowed to feel like his career has been taken away from him at such a young age,” ex-England Under-21 midfielder Muamba, 34, told BBC Sport.

“At the same time, his loved ones need him around now. It would have been a lot worse if something bad had happened to him during a game of football.”

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Doctors diagnosed Mwepu’s condition after he was taken to hospital on a recent trip to Mali with the Zambia national squad.

“At that particular moment, you feel like this thing has been stolen away from you without you having a say in it,” said Muamba, who has launched an initiative to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation via messaging app Snapchat.

“But at the same time, you’ve got to look at the bigger picture – this is not about you anymore. This is about everybody who’s involved in a football club, it’s about the players who you’re playing with.”

Heart problems affecting footballers are rare, but several high-profile players have been affected by such issues.

Manchester City all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero retired from football aged 33 after experiencing chest discomfort while playing for Barcelona.

Former Manchester United defender Daley Blind was diagnosed with a heart condition in December 2019, returning to playing with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted.

Current Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen also has an ICD fitted following his cardiac arrest during a Denmark match at Euro 2020, while midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe died after collapsing during a Cameroon match in France in 2003.

“I understand the emotions and being upset but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” added Muamba, who also played for Arsenal and Birmingham.

“You hope he will get the support he needs.

“I feel that we should give him the time and space to process everything. From there, if he ever wants to talk, I’m there for him.”

Zambia’s Football Association led the tributes to Mwepu, while Brighton chairman Tony Bloom pledged that the club would be fully behind the player.

Seagulls manager Roberto de Zerbi hopes to be able to help Mwepu as he decides what to do next, as the Zambian has said he plans to stay in football “in some capacity”.

Speaking before Friday’s game at Brentford, the Italian’s third match in charge of the club, De Zerbi said: “I don’t want to speak about money.

“I want to speak about the human problem, and I am very sorry for him and his family.

“I wrote a message, to him, two or three days ago, and I said I am always ready to listen to what Enoch wants to be and what he wants to do. I am ready to help him.”— BBC

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