Doctors treating Bolton Wanderers' Fabrice Muamba have revealed the player was effectively dead for over an hour after his cardiac arrest on the pitch at the weekend.
They said the 23-year-old was given 15 electric shocks before his heart started beating again following his collapse during an FA Cup game against Tottenham.
Medics spent 48 minutes trying to resuscitate Muamba between his collapse on the pitch at White Hart Lane and his arrival at hospital, where doctors worked on him for another 30 minutes - a total of 78 minutes.
Two of the shocks were administered on the pitch, one in the tunnel, and another 12 in the ambulance.
"In effect, he was dead in that time," said club medic Dr Jonathan Tobin said.
Since his heart was restarted, Muamba has been in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital.
Dr Tobin visited the midfielder on Tuesday night when he said the still critically-ill player asked him what had happened.
"I'm glad to say that the early signs of recovery have continued," said Dr Tobin.
"I went to see Fabrice last night. I went in and he said 'Hi, doc'. I asked him how he was and he said 'fine'."
He continued: "I explained to him what had happened.
"That's the sort of level of communication I have had with Fabrice."
Medics have been unable to confirm whether Muamba will ever be able to play professional football again.
"These are the very first steps of a very long pathway that Fabrice is going to go down," added Dr Tobin.
Meanwhile, Dr Andrew Deaner, the cardiologist and Tottenham fan who leapt from his seat in the crowd and rushed on to the pitch to help the player, has described Muamba's recovery as "miraculous".
The medic revealed he was only at the game because he had been given a spare ticket by his nephew who was unable to attend.
He was watching the match with his brothers when he saw Muamba fall to the ground and immediately rushed to his side.
"Something sort of told me I should go down," he said.
"The adrenaline starts pumping when you see a cardiac arrest."
He visited Muamba after he had woken up and said the footballer was able to make a joke even that early in his recovery.
Dr Deaner asked the player what his name was, and Muamba was able to give his name.
"I said 'I understand you're a very good footballer'. And he said 'I try'," he continued.
"As things stand, I think his life is not in danger at this time. His neurological function is looking very good but it is early days," he added.
Earlier, Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor told Sky News Muamba was "much better" and suggested the midfielder was talking and even laughing after visiting him at the hospital in Bethnal Green, east London.
Details of the early signs of the player's recovery came as Bolton Wanderers confirmed their Premier League fixture against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday will go ahead - and the postponed FA Cup tie away to Spurs will take place on Tuesday.
The club's match against Aston Villa earlier this week was cancelled in the wake of the incident.