Tragic death of Cameroon Marc-Vivien Foé

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Marc-Vivien Foé was a Cameroonian professional footballer, who played as a defensive midfielder for both club and country. Foé went on to play professionally in Ligue 1 and the Premier League with Lens, West Ham United, Lyon and Manchester City.

He started as a junior with Elite Two side Union de Garoua and Moved to Canon Yaoundé, one of the biggest clubs in Cameroon, where he won the Cameroonian Cup in 1993.

Foé turned down Auxerre for a trainee position, he signed for another French club, RC Lens of Ligue 1. His made his debut on 13 August 1994 was a 2–1 win against Montpellier.In five seasons at Lens, he won the 1998 French league title.

He was targeted by Manchester United in 1998, but Lens turned down a £3 million offer for him. Further negotiations between the clubs were curtailed abruptly after he broke a leg at Cameroon’s pre-World Cup training camp and subsequently missed the whole of the 1998 World Cup.

He moved to English Premier League club West Ham United after he recovered, for a club record fee of £4.2 million in January 1999. He played 38 league matches for West Ham, scoring one goal against Sheffield Wednesday. He also scored a goal in West Ham’s 3–1 win against NK Osijek in the UEFA Cup.

In May 2000, he moved back to France, joining Lyon on a £6 million transfer. He missed much of the season after he developed symptoms of malaria. After recovery, he won the Coupe de la Ligue in 2001, and the Division 1 league title a year later.

Foé then returned to the English Premier League, loaned to Manchester City in the 2002–03 season for £550,000. His debut on the opening day of the season was a 3–0 loss to Leeds United. Foé was a first team regular for Kevin Keegan’s team, starting 38 of 41 matches.

International Career

Foé began representing Cameroon at under-20s when he was called up to the squad of 18 players for the 1993 FIFA World Youth Championship in Australia, under the management of Jean Manga-Onguéné. He played in all of their three group stage matches, scoring one goal in a 3–2 defeat to Colombia in their second match on 8 March 1993, as Cameroon were eventually eliminated from the competition after finishing third. Foé later made his senior debut against Mexico on 22 September 1993 at the Memorial Coliseum, a match which Cameroon lost 1–0.

The following year, he was included in the Cameroon squad for the 1994 World Cup, starting all three of their matches. Team members had been in various financial and disciplinary disputes with the Cameroon Football Association, and the squad was a shadow of the one which had famously reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990. Cameroon mustered just one point from three matches, and finished with an embarrassing 6–1 defeat to Russia. However, Foé’s consistently strong performances as a defensive midfielder (including a goal assist) prompted interest from European clubs.

He was in the Cameroon squad in the 2002 World Cup. As in 1994, he played in all of Cameroon’s matches. Though the team performed better than in 1994, they were again eliminated at the group stage, having beaten Saudi Arabia, drawn with Ireland and lost to Germany.

On 26 June 2003, Cameroon faced Colombia in the semi-final, held at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon, France. In the 72nd minute of the match Foé collapsed in the centre circle with no other players near him.

Tragic death of Cameroon Marc-Vivien Foé

After attempts to resuscitate him on the pitch, he was stretchered off the field, where he received mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen. Medics spent 45 minutes attempting to restart his heart, and although he was still alive upon arrival at the stadium’s medical centre, he died shortly afterwards.

A first autopsy did not determine an exact cause of death, but a second autopsy concluded that Foé’s death was heart-related as it discovered evidence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary condition known to increase the risk of sudden death during physical exercise.

According to report Foé’s widow Marie-Louise stated that the midfielder had been ill with gastric problems and dysentery before his final match, but he was adamant to play in his adopted hometown of Lyon. Cameroon manager Winfried Schäfer wanted to substitute him minutes before his collapse, observing that the player seemed fatigued, but he signalled that he wanted to continue.


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