Fabrice Muamba admitted he is still "far away" from returning to a football pitch but remains hopeful he will be able to resume his career with Bolton.
The midfielder was at the town's Victoria Hall to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton at their graduation ceremony.
Muamba was presented with the award to honour both him and the doctors who saved his life when he collapsed with a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham in March.
Muamba was rushed to the London Chest Hospital and doctors took 78 minutes to restart his heart, with his eventual recovery described as a miracle.
Speaking at the ceremony, Muamba said:
Muamba arrived in London aged 11 after he and his family fled war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Despite being unable to speak English when he arrived in the capital, Muamba went on to achieve 10 GCSEs and three A levels.
He joined Arsenal FC's youth academy in 2002 before moving to Birmingham and then Bolton in 2008.