Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday January 12 2008
Most Arsenal fans will know that former Arsenal midfield starlet Fabrice Muamba fled DR Congo as a child and moved to London.
What most probably don't know is his story of how he came to be here. I'll let him take over...
'It was very, very tough. '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.'
'My father feared for his life, there were loads of people after him. No one has told me what it was about, it's just one of those things that happened.
'We don't talk about it any more. Once or twice he has tried to speak to me about it. But I don't want to hear. I'll just get angry about it.
'I can't remember the exact day he left us. But I can recall what happened. I said: 'Where are you going?' and he replied: 'I'm just going'. I said: "OK, I'll see you when I see you" and that was it.
'I didn't go to the airport with him. My mum and my uncle went. No one knew anything. One of my uncles put my mum Gertrude, my brother and two sisters in a safe place. No one knew where we were.
'But one of my other uncles was killed later. And no one has told me that story to the present moment, either.'
'It was December 6, 1999. I was 11. Oh my God, it was so cold. I was shivering. I thought to myself: 'What am I doing here?' Then, I saw him in the airport.
'It was good to see my dad. He was a different person from the one I knew. It was amazing the family being together again, but I couldn't speak a word of English. I did extra work at school and that helped me.
'I had arrived halfway through the school year. My first day at school was just a big puzzle. There was nobody who was from the Congo. I did OK in French! But that was about it. People were talking too fast and I was just puzzled.
'PE was my favourite lesson. I used to like that because I used to run the show. Football was the answer to everything. That's how I got respect at school.
'People would say: "That kid's good". I didn't play for the district team. I just played for Arsenal's academy.'
A truly shocking story, I'm sure you'll all agree. It's stories like this that put football into perspective!
Date:Saturday January 12 2008
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