FABRICE Muamba on Monday told how he came back from the dead and said: 'I asked God to protect me — and he didn't let me down.'
The emotional soccer star, 24, was speaking for the first time since he collapsed and 'died' on the pitch in front of millions of TV viewers.
Revealing a 3-inch scar on his chest where doctors inserted a zapper to restart his heart if it stops again, the Bolton and England Under-21 midfielder said: 'What happened to me was really more than a miracle.'
Muamba, a devout Christian, added: 'I am walking proof of the power of prayer. For 78 minutes I was dead and even if I lived was expected to have suffered brain damage.
'But I'm very much alive and sitting here talking now. Someone up there was watching over me. On the morning of the game I prayed with my father and asked God to protect me — and he didn't let me down.'
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Muamba revealed he was gripped by a strange 'out-of-body' sensation seconds before he collapsed. His heart stopped for 78 minutes during the FA Cup tie with Spurs at White Hart Lane on March 17.
The lion-hearted star, who was unconscious for three days and spent 40 days in hospital, is now home with fiancee Shauna Magunda, 27, and little boy Joshua, three.
His tears flowed as he spoke of his joy at seeing his family as he began his recovery.
He re-lived the terrifying moments when he felt dizzy and saw double before collapsing 'dead' on the pitch.
He said: 'I could see Spurs players running around in the distance and saw two Scott Parkers then two Luka Modriches.
'That was when I realised something was seriously wrong.'
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he looked for the first time at dramatic pictures of the battle to save his life on the pitch.
The superfit Bolton midfielder was feeling well right up to the moment his heart stopped and he crashed unconscious to the pitch 41 minutes into the FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane. He said:
'There were a few chances and with the score at 1-1 I still felt we could have pulled off an upset. That's when I got the first feeling that something wasn't right. I ran upfield to try to get on the end of a cross from Martin Petrov on our left wing and as I ran back into midfield I felt very slightly dizzy.
“It wasn't normal dizziness — it was a kind of surreal feeling like I was running along inside someone else's body. It's hard to explain.
“Then I made another burst forward and noticed it again — that dizzy feeling again. But then my vision started to go.
“I had no pain whatsoever. No clutching at my chest or tightness like you see when people have heart attacks in movies. Just an odd feeling that's impossible to explain.
Emotional...Fabrice Muamba is tearful as he discuss his miracle moment
“Then I started to see double. It felt almost like a dream. There was no one anywhere near me when I started to feel myself falling. The last thing I heard was our defender Dedryck Boyata screaming at me to get back to help out in defence.
“He obviously had no idea what was happening to me and neither had I.
“I just felt myself falling through the air then felt two big thumps as my head hit the ground in front of me then that was it. Blackness, nothing. I was dead.'
Muamba was well away from the ball when he crashed face down on to the turf. Footballers and fans united in stunned silence as referee Howard Webb ended the match fearing the midfielder had died.
Players stood in tears while paramedics pumped at his chest.
Muamba has no recollection of the frantic battle to save him which unfolded on live TV in front of millions of fans. And he never heard both Bolton and Spurs fans tearfully cheering his name in tribute as word went around the North London stadium that he was already beyond hope.
His life was saved by Dr Andrew Deaner, a cardiologist and Tottenham fan who leapt from his seat in the crowd and rushed to help. Dr Deaner organised paramedics resuscitating him, then insisted he was rushed directly to the London Chest Hospital for the best possible specialist care.
Muamba told The Sun: 'It was pure chance that Dr Deaner was in the crowd that day. I owe him everything. He is the reason I have been able to hold my baby son again and continue my life.
“It's odd when I look at pictures of what happened now because at the time I was out of it and had no idea what was going on. But in lots of pictures I see the doctor there taking care of me on the pitch. I would not be alive today if he'd not been at the game.'
It took 15 defibrillator shocks from paramedics — two on the pitch and 13 in the ambulance — to spark life back into his body.
Dr Deaner and specialist cardiac teams at the hospital swathed Muamba in electric cooling blankets once his heart was restarted.
These lowered his body temperature forcing blood into the brain and vital organs, preventing cell damage while he was pumped with drugs and given fluid and oxygen.
Muamba last night recalled how he felt fine in the build-up to the fateful match. He said: 'I had trained as usual all week and felt great. I've been playing professional football since I was 18 and have never had a serious injury.
“I don't even get colds very often, I've never had any problems with my heart or any major organ and there's no history of heart disease in my family. And on that day I remember feeling particularly fit and was really looking forward to the match.
“Tottenham are a strong side but I thought we'd give them a run for their money as I took a look at the pitch and did my warm up in front of the crowd. I can still remember feeling focused and really fit as I pulled on my black away kit shirt with my number six on the back.
“Before I went on the pitch I made sure I took plenty of fluid to prepare myself for the physical battle ahead but I felt sharp… I felt good. If only I'd known what was about to happen.'
Devout Christian Muamba told how he prayed with his dad just hours before the game. He said: 'We'd travelled down for the match by train on Friday.
'On Saturday my dad called me at the team hotel and we prayed together like we always do before games.
'We weren't saying prayers as such but I remember asking for God's protection — it's something that we often do on the phone.' Muamba's father Marcel, a 45-year-old Tesco shop worker from Walthamstow, East London, was at the fateful cup tie.
Marcel, who fled political oppression in the Congo in 1994, told how he begged God to spare his son. He said: 'I was taken to the intensive care unit straight from White Hart Lane in a police van.
'I was obviously very concerned that Fabrice would not make it but our faith is very strong and I really believed God would answer my prayer to save him. Inside the van I remember calmly turning to the Bolton chairman Phil Gartside and saying, 'Fabrice will be fine'. He probably thought I was crazy.
'But somehow I just knew Fabrice would be safe in God's hands.'
Once inside the hospital, Marcel locked himself inside a toilet cubicle for five minutes praying intensely. He said: 'I told God, please take care of everything.
Then he went into Fabrice's room with the star's heartbroken younger half-brother Daniel, 12 — who had also been at the match. Marcel held Muamba's cold, limp hand and whispered in his ear.
He recalled: 'I told Fabrice, 'I know you are listening to me. I am telling you that you will come out of this hospital through the front door not the back door.
'Then I said to God, 'You are the one who resurrected Lazarus from the dead. Now in this moment glorify yourself.'
'People around me at the time were amazed by how calm I was after I prayed and how sure I was that Fabrice would be OK. They thought I was blocking things out and just refusing to let myself believe my son was going to die because I couldn't accept what was happening.
'At that stage many people believed even if he survived he would end up brain damaged and could never be his old self.
'But I was calm because I had put my trust in God. And God did not let me down.'