Cohen: I'm praying for Muamba
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Tamir Cohen recalled the moment Fabrice Muamba helped him overcome the loss of his father, before paying tribute to his former teammate who suffered a cardiac arrest during the FA Cup tie against Spurs.
Cohen, 28, left Bolton last season but remains "very close friends" with Muamba. In a heartfelt tribute to the player who was given life-saving treatment on the pitch at White Hart Lane, Cohen said: "I played with Fabrice for three years at Bolton and he is one of the most wonderful guys you could ever meet.
"We're very good friends and I'm stunned by what happened. I'm praying for him and hoping that he will recover as quickly as possible."
Cohen, who returned to Israel to join Maccabi Haifa last August, says that he has been monitoring Muamba's progress at the London Chest Hospital. "I'm in contact all the time with former teammates in England and I received a text message saying that Fabrice is improving and speaking," he said. "I just hope there will be no lasting damage to the brain."
Cohen revealed Muamba was one of the teammates who was "most supportive" following the death of his father, Avi Cohen, the former Liverpool star, just over a year ago. "It was Muamba together with Johan Elmander who came to me with the idea that I should have a shirt made with a picture of my father on it," he said. "They suggested I should wear it under my Bolton shirt and if I scored I could take off my shirt and dedicate the goal to my father."
● Stuart Lustigman, the chairman of the Maccabi Masters League, has described the Muamba incident as "a real wake-up call" to Sunday morning footballers.
Lustigman this week emailed all clubs in the over-35's league, advising them to ensure they have someone qualified on hand to deal with similar incidents.
He said: "Hopefully some good has to come from adversity and we're calling for people to be educated. The response has been good so far.
"The fact that it happened in such a high-profile match made people sit up and take notice, but at amateur level it probably happens more than we realise."
Martin Berliner, the Chief Executive of Maccabi GB, says that he will write to all the Jewish football leagues to remind them of the importance of having a qualified first-aider. Berliner said: "We have medical staff on hand at all our events. We were on the case prior to the Muamba incident and have a duty of care to do so. All our staff are trained, including those who coach in our after- school sessions."