FRIENDS of a Bexleyheath teen who collapsed and died playing football have been comforted by a letter from a former Premier League star.
Fabrice Muamba has written to staff and pupils at Bexleyheath Academy after 16-year-old Philip Lamin suffered a cardiac arrest during a kick around at Goals Soccer Centre next to the school grounds on February 5.
Muamba, 24, survived a similar emergency playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham Hotspur in March last year despite his heart stopping for 78 minutes.
In the letter, read out in assembly by Bexleyheath Academy principal Carl Wakefield, he said: "I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend Philip.
"Words are not enough to describe such a great loss and such pain for all of you.
"I want to assure you of my thoughts and prayers for you at this difficult and stressful time.
"Since all that happened to me over this last year I realise how precious life is and indeed how fragile it is too."
Promising young footballer Philip was believed to have been set for a trial at Fulham FC U18s once he had finished his GCSEs this summer.
Staff and students at Bexleyheath Academy are raising money for the Muamba-endorsed Arrhythmia Alliance Hearts and Goals campaign – aimed at increasing the number of defibrillators in public places and offering CPR training – and Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
Head of year 11 Tracey Boswell said messages from the footballer – whose career was ended by his White Hart Lane collapse – and Mayor of London Boris Johnson had been a "great comfort" to students and staff.
She said: "The students have amazed us, beyond anything we could have imagined, with their drive and enthusiasm to raise funds not only for our two chosen charities but also, more importantly, to help Philip’s family with the funeral costs.
"Bexleyheath Academy is determined to continue with its momentum of raising funds for our two charities and our main goal now is to ensure that something positive comes out of something so tragic."
More than £3,000 was raised in a week to help pay for Philip’s funeral which will take place at the Freedom Centre International in Upper Wickham Lane, Welling, at 9.30am on Friday, March 8.
Philip Lamin's mother Juliet (centre) with pupils at Bexleyheath Academy.
Pupils and staff at Bexleyheath Academy planted a magnolia tree in honour of Philip in the school courtyard this afternoon (March 5).
The 15ft tree was flown in specially from Italy and funded by Kier Facilities Services which manages the school site.
Boris Johnson’s message to pupils said: "Philip’s loss must have been a terrible shock to everyone who knew him.
"Like you, he was at the beginning of his life and had a huge amount to look forward to.
"It is a tragedy that it was cut short so suddenly."