- Associated Press - Monday, March 19, 2012

LONDON (AP) - Bolton player Fabrice Muamba is showing “small signs of improvement” and his heart started beating without medication two days after he was stricken with cardiac arrest during a game.

A joint statement from the club and hospital Monday added that Muamba is moving his arms and legs but stressed that he remains in intensive care with an uncertain long-term prognosis.

The 23-year-old midfielder collapsed on the field just before halftime in an FA Cup match at Tottenham on Saturday. His heart started beating on its own again only after he arrived at the hospital’s heart attack unit that night. Muamba has been in a critical condition since.

“He is showing small signs of improvement,” the statement 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. He is still critically ill and will continue to be closely monitored and treated by staff in the London Chest Hospital’s intensive care unit.”

The player’s fiancee has been issuing pleas on Twitter for Muamba, who proposed on Valentine’s Day. The couple has a 3-year-old son.

“Fabrice WILL!! Pull through because God is good,” Shauna Muamba tweeted. “Love u so much fmuamba keep strong we’re praying for u honey … where there is life there is hope.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter wrote to Bolton chairman Phil Gartside on Monday.

“Moments like these show us what is truly important in life and also illustrate the great solidarity that exists between football fans in times of trouble,” Blatter wrote in a message released by FIFA.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle said the former England under-21 international is going through a “brave fight.” He said the club had been inundated with messages of support, including from David Beckham.

“There is a real hope he can come through this. When situations like this occur there is a real strength, a real unity, a real togetherness … that has given (the family) an incredible energy,” Coyle said outside the east London hospital.

Muamba, a former Arsenal and Birmingham player, fled to England with in family in 1999 to escape the civil war in Congo.

“When you look what he has come through in his life already he is a natural fighter. He is a physically fit young man,” Coyle said. “If those things can help at all it will be a source of help and encouragement.”

There is also concern in his homeland.

“We are with him in heart and especially with his family at this difficult moment,” Omari Selemani, president of Congo’s soccer federation, told The Associated Press by telephone. “Being of Congolese origin, it makes our country proud having a player from Congo playing abroad.”

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