Fabrice Muamba to star in Christmas Strictly Come Dancing

It’s the Christmas celebrity show that everyone wants to appear in, in fact, after her appearance last year on Strictly Come Dancing, Fern Britton was so enamoured with the show that when she was approached to take part this year, she jumped at the chance.

It must be with great trepidation, however, that ex Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba will take to the dance floor, as it is only nine months that the former midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie.

On 17 March 2012, Muamba collapsed during the first half of an FA Cup quarter-final match, and suffered from a cardiac arrest, in the match between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

He was attended to on the pitch by medical personnel which included a consultant cardiologist who happened to be at the game as a spectator.

Muamba was taken to the London Chest Hospital with Bolton manager Owen Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies accompanying him in the ambulance. The match was subsequently abandoned by referee Howard Webb, and Bolton’s next game, against Aston Villa, due to be played three days later, was postponed at the club’s request.

It was later revealed that Muamba had received numerous defibrillator shocks both on the pitch and in the ambulance, and his heart had stopped for 78 minutes.

He was kept in intensive care where his condition was said to be critical, but he made a miraculous recovery and by 19 March, his heart was beating without medication, he was able to move his limbs and he could recognise family members.

He was discharged from hospital on 16 April, having been fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), but he was never to return to playing football again, as on 15 August 2012,

Bolton announced that Muamba had retired from professional football, based on the recommendation of his medical team. Muamba said at the time: “Since suffering my heart attack and being discharged from hospital, I have remained utterly positive in the belief I could one day resume my playing career and play for Bolton Wanderers once again.

As part of my on-going recovery, last week I travelled to Belgium to seek further medical advice from a leading cardiologist. But the news I received was obviously not what I had hoped it would be and it means I am now announcing my retirement from professional football.

Football has been my life since I was a teenage boy and it has given me so many opportunities. Above all else, I love the game and count myself very lucky to have been able to play at the highest level. While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for.

I thank God that I am alive and I pay tribute once again to the members of the medical team who never gave up on me. I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career, and the Bolton fans who have been incredible. I am blessed to have the support of my family and friends at this time.”

Muamba returned to White Hart Lane for the first time since his cardiac arrest on Thursday 8 November 2012, and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The announcement comes weeks after he told an interviewer he had already turned down ITV’s Dancing On Ice, but would be ‘well up for’ Strictly. A spokesman for the BBC One show said: “This booking comes on the back of our most successful series ever.”

Also expected to return for the Christmas special are last year’s runner-up Chelsee Healey and newsreaders Natasha Kaplinsky and Chris Hollins.