Former France winger David Ginola is recovering in hospital in Monaco after a quadruple heart bypass operation.
The 49-year-old former Newcastle, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton player, who retired in 2002, collapsed in the south of France on Thursday.
His surgeon, speaking with authority of the family, told BBC Sport Ginola was "extremely lucky" to be alive.
A tweet from Ginola's account on Friday read: "Hello world, never slept better. I'm fine, just need to rest a bit."
"David played a sort of charity football match. All of a sudden he collapsed and people thought it was a joke but after one or two minutes they realised it was serious," said Gilles Dreyfus, professor of cardiac surgery at the Monaco Heart Centre.
"Fortunately there was one person who had been trained in CPR, because otherwise he would have been brain dead. They then called the emergency services, who arrived eight minutes later with him in cardiac arrest.
"I was speaking to the captain and he was telling me the girl who was in the ambulance only knew where the football field, which isn't an official one but a private one, was because she had seen it that morning and asked somebody what it was.
"If she hadn't then most likely she would not have found it within the timeframe to save him.
"They arrived with him in cardiac arrest, he was shocked four times on site, they were able to restore a normal heart rhythm and within 10 minutes a helicopter arrived to transfer him to Monaco Heart Centre.
"I made the decision to transfer him to the operating theatre and he immediately underwent a quadruple heart bypass, which was very straightforward although difficult.
"This morning he woke up perfectly normally with no neurological damage and is now recovering from a bypass like anybody would normally do.
"It was a sequence of events that at every stage went absolutely fine, that is why he is here today. Luckier you can't be. It's an unbelievable story."
Ginola's life in football
Ginola, who won 17 caps for France, retired in May 2002 and has gone on to become a pundit with the BBC, BT Sport, Canal Plus and CNN.
He began his football career in England in 1995, when Newcastle signed him from Paris St-Germain for £2.5m.
A fans' favourite at St James' Park, he joined Tottenham in 1997, winning the 1999 League Cup with the Londoners.
That same season, he was named the PFA players' player of the year and the Football Writers' Association's footballer of the year.