Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech believes his brush with death six years ago brought about changes which saved Fabrice Muamba’s life.
The custodian suffered a depressed fracture of the skull after Ireland’s Stephen Hunt kneed him in the head as the pair battled for possession at Reading’s Madejski Stadium. He couldn’t speak clearly and slipped into unconsciousness as he waited some 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
When he was taken to hospital; two pieces of bone were removed from Cech’s brain and metal plates put in in their place. Had those pieces penetrated any further he might have died. The plates remain to this day and the Czech international goalkeeper now plays in a protective helmet.
The incident sparked an improvement in pitch-side medical care by the Premier League, which ensured the help Bolton Muamba received at Tottenham was immediate and first-rate. Cech said: “You remember what happened at Reading with me, when you saw me crawling off the pitch. It took so much time first before I was carried onto a stretcher, and then people couldn’t get me out of the dressing room.
Imagine if that had happened with Fabrice – by the time somebody managed to get him out he might have no chance. I was at least glad to see that since then the medical care and structure changed for the better.”
The 88 times capped Cech concluded by saying: ”Fabrice still has a chance to survive because of the equipment around the pitch now.”