Wigan Athletic club doctor recounts 'Miracle of White Hart Lane'

On Tuesday night, Dr Jonathan Tobin was on the Wigan Athletic bench at Wimbledon, doing what he says he does best...passing tactical tips on to Leam Richardson and the rest of the management.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 5:15 pm
Dr Tobin and the rest of the Latics bench celebrate Viv Solomon-Otabor's goal at Plymouth last week

Today (Wednesday) he's been reflecting on what happened exactly nine years ago at White Hart Lane, when an FA Cup tie between Tottenham and Bolton - for whom he was working at the time - had the whole world holding its breath and praying.

When Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed in the middle of the pitch - and Dr Tobin suddenly had the life of his close friend literally in his hands.

"It's still the most terrifying thing I've ever been involved in," Dr Tobin told Wigan Today.

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"On one hand I was completely and utterly calm and focused on what was going on, and all the training you've done kicks in.

"And on the other hand my heart was in my mouth, and I'm an extremely frightened doctor in a really, really strange, surreal situation.

"Even though we had such a good outcome, and it's nine years later, I still get quite shaky talking about it.

"I'd worked in and around hospitals for many years, and I'd obviously seen plenty of similar things due to the nature of the job.

"But it was the fact you're doing it in front of tens of thousands of people, who are all chanting his name...and then you throw in the fact this is a friend of mine.

"Obviously any person that comes into A&E is as important as any other...but I'd worked with Fab every day for four years, we'd travelled everywhere together."

After doing everything he could on the field to give Muamba a fighting chance, Dr Tobin remembers the aftermath as if it were yesterday.

"Once we got to the hospital, and we handed him over to the doctors there, I remember falling to pieces, and slumping against a wall," he said.

"Kevin Davies and the gaffer (Owen Coyle) came in and saw me sobbing on the floor, and they can obviously see that Fab has died.

"We had discussions with Shauna, who is now his wife, telling her she should expect the very worst. He is just not going to come out of this.

"His heart actually stopped for 78 minutes in total, which is literally unbelievable.

"I had letters from cardiologists from all over the world saying they'd never heard of anything like this...for someone to have that long a downtime and then have such a recovery.

"To be able to walk out of hospital, talk about it afterwards...anyone else you're looking at the rest of your life in ICU, being fed, at best...and look at him now."

And while shocking to have taken place at a football match, Dr Tobin says there was no better time and place for it to have happened.

"It was 37 seconds from the moment he collapsed to us reaching him to start resuscitation," he said.

"There's literally nowhere else on earth where you're going to get care going that quickly...even in hospital, there wouldn't be people on the scene that quickly.

"But there's also a hell of a lot of luck in getting the outcome we did...and I'm so glad we had that."