Players pray for Muamba's recovery
March 18, 2012 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Bolton player Fabrice Muamba lies prone on the pitch after collapsing before halftime during the English FA Cup quarterfinal away to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
- Football community sends messages of support for Fabrice Muamba
- Bolton midfielder collapsed during match and was taken to hospital
- He came to England at the age of 11 from Democratic Republic of Congo
- His family had to flee due to ties with former regime of president Mobuto
(CNN) -- Fabrice Muamba's fellow footballers rallied around the Bolton player after he was admitted to hospital following a possible heart attack during a match on Saturday.
The midfielder was in critical condition in intensive care, the English Premier League club confirmed.
He collapsed for no apparent reason four minutes before halftime in the FA Cup quarterfinal at Tottenham in London, and the match was abandoned.
"Come on Fabrice Muamba, praying for you," Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand wrote on Twitter.
Ferdinand's clubmate and fellow England international Wayne Rooney added: "Hope fabrice muamba is ok. Praying for him and his family. Still in shock."
Muamba collapses; reaction from stadium
Muamba in hospital's heart attack center after collapse
Arsenal's England midfielder Jack Wilshere played with the 23-year-old while on loan at Bolton during the 2009-10 season.
"Hope Muamba is okay. Thoughts with him," the 20-year-old tweeted.
Muamba began his career at Arsenal, where he came through the youth ranks with defender Justin Hoyte, who now plays for second division club Middlesbrough.
"I seriously hope my best friend in football is OK. Stay strong bro please please stay strong. God is with you remember that," tweeted Hoyte, who like Muamba has represented England at under-21 level.
I seriously hope my best friend in football is OK. Stay strong bro please please stay strong
Muamba was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire, and came to England in 1999 at the age of 11 after being granted political asylum.
He told the UK's Daily Mail newspaper in 2008 that his family had fled due to his father's previous position working for the overthrown regime of ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko,
"It was very, very tough," Muamba said. "I saw the war. I saw people die. I grew up with it. It was scary.
"I didn't live far from the gunshots and the sound of them going off. It was difficult to get used to, especially hearing guns at night. It did have an effect on me.
"It stopped us going out to play football because we were scared we would get killed. One or two of my friends were hurt, one or two of them have since died."
Muamba is said to be deeply religious, the UK Press Association reported.
"Fabrice is an extremely strong believer in God and says that he is the reason for everything he has done and accomplished," according to his profile in a match-day booklet.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
After a miserable Champions League defeat to Olympiakos, CNN's John Sinnott wonders if Manchester United is officially in trouble.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
CNN's David Ford analyzes the changing face of Manchester City since Barcelona's last visit to the English club 11 years ago.
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
A ruling that Polish fans will not face legal action after anti-Semitic chanting sparks debate over whether it signals acceptance of such attacks.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
If FIFA really cared about gay rights, why did it give the World Cup to a country where homosexuality is illegal, asks CNN's James Masters.
CNN's Alex Thomas takes a brave punt on the 2014 champion ahead of Friday's World Cup draw.
Today's five most popular stories