By LIZ HULL, KEITH GLADDIS, LUKE SALKELD and ROB COOPER
'God is in control': Shauna Magunda, right, Fabrice Muamba's fiancee urged her Twitter followers to keep the Bolton player in their prayers as he fights for life
Fabrice Muamba, the Premier League footballer left fighting for his life after collapsing during a game, is now able to respond to questions and recognise members of his family, his club said tonight.
Bolton Wanderers confirmed the midfielder is breathing without the aid of a ventilator but remains in intensive care, under the close watch of medical staff.
After speaking to Muamba's family today, friend Curtis Codrington said the footballer had spoken 'minimal words in English and French, which is better than nothing'.
Respects: Ashley Cole (right), Shaun Wright-Phillips (left) and another man arrive at the London Chest Hospital today to visit Fabrice Muamba who has seen his condition improve slightly in the last 24 hours
This evening the 23-year-old's fiancee, Shauna Magunda, wrote on Twitter: 'All your prayers are working people thank u so so much. Every prayer makes him stronger. To God be the glory.'
Doctors said earlier today that Muamba was 'showing signs of improvement'.
Happy couple: Fabrice Muamba, right, out with his fiancee Shauna who he had recently got engaged to. The couple have a three-year-old son
A joint statement from the club and Barts and The London NHS Trust said: 'Fabrice Muamba remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital. He is continuing to show signs of improvement this evening.
'He is currently able to breathe independently without the aid of a ventilator. He has also been able to recognise family members and respond to questions appropriately.
'These are all positive signs of progress. However, his condition remains serious and our medical staff in intensive care will continue to monitor and treat him.'
Fight: Fabrice Muamba, left with Diego Maradona in 2005, and, right, with his fiancee at a party last year
An earlier statement, released this afternoon, said his heart is beating without the aid of medication and he has begun moving his arms and legs - but his long-term health prospects are unclear.
The footballer suffered a heart attack on the pitch during his team's FA Cup quarter-final with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
He was put in an artificially induced coma and his fiancee is keeping a 24-hour bedside vigil.
Doctors battled for two hours to get Muamba's heart pumping again.
Happy times: Bolton Wanderers midfielder in a picture he posted on Twitter last month. He is in a critical condition today after collapsing on the pitch on Saturday
His heart is believed to have stopped altogether for seven minutes, sparking fears that he could have suffered brain damage because of a lack of oxygen.
The footballer's life may have been saved by a consultant cardiologist who was at the FA Cup quarter-final.
Tottenham fan Dr Andrew Deaner, who works at the London Chest Hospital, went onto the pitch and helped treat the player before he was rushed to hospital.
Romance: Fabrice Muamba proposed to his girlfriend Shauna Magunda on Valentines Day