Fabrice Muamba was welcomed back to Bolton with a standing ovation from more than 10,000 fans as he played an 11-a-side match for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch at Tottenham four years ago.
The former Bolton midfielder's heart stopped beating for 78 minutes after he collapsed on the pitch and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he made a recovery.
The incident forced him to retire from the professional game, at the age of 24, but in the more sedate surrounds of today's charity match - which involved former players and celebrities, he made a first return to the ground in a playing role as a first-half sub.
His introduction drew a huge reception and one of his first acts was to set up Nigerian midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha to score a goal from distance.
He was eventually withdrawn late on having played for 50 minutes in his first 11-a-side contest since the incident at White Hart Lane.
"I really enjoyed it, I lasted longer than I thought I would," Muamba said.
"I play now and again with my eldest son and I'm trying to keep myself fit at the same time. It was very, very good just to see some old faces and old friends. To be able to put some smiles on the Bolton fans' faces was great.
"The Bolton fans are always special to me, regardless of whether I'm here or not. It's a town that means so much to me. It's a shame that we're in this very, very difficult situation.
"This is the first time I've played on a big pitch, I ran around a little bit but it felt good."