FABRICE MUAMBA was said to be speaking again last night after two days in intensive care, raising hopes that the footballer could make a miracle recovery from his cardiac arrest.
The 23-year-old remains critically ill in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital after collapsing during an FA Cup tie on Saturday, but a statement from his club, Bolton Wanderers, said that he was able to "breathe independently" and has "been able to recognise family members and respond to questions".
A friend of Muamba said that he had begun speaking "minimal words" again in French and English.
Earlier yesterday, the midfielder had started moving his arms and legs of his own accord.
A joint statement from Barts and the London NHS Trust and Bolton Wanderers Football Club said: "His heart is now beating without the help of medication. However, his long-term prognosis will remain unclear for some time. He is still critically ill and will continue to be closely monitored and treated by staff."
Muamba collapsed on the pitch as Bolton Wanderers played Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane during an FA Cup quarter-final.
The match was abandoned after paramedics rushed to help the footballer, desperately trying to resuscitate him.
But it was almost two hours before they were able to get the midfielder's heart beating on its own.
Cardiologist Dr Andrew Deaner was a spectator at the match when the incident happened. He immediately ran to the edge of the pitch and explained to stewards that he was a heart specialist, before insisting that Muamba go to the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, where he works.
His actions were praised by fans and medical professionals yesterday, as his intervention later proved to be critical in saving Muamba's life.
"They were obviously very troubling scenes but the thing that was most vital was how quickly he received treatment," Dr Graham Stuart, director of Sports Cardiology UK, said.
A string of visitors from the football world - including Chelsea defender Ashley Cole and QPR's Shaun Wright-Phillips - arrived at the hospital to offer their support.
Outside, where fans have left tributes, Bolton manager Owen Coyle said relatives had been "inundated" with messages of support.