It’s exactly 18 years since Cameroon Midfielder Marc Vivian Foe pass away during a FIFA confederations cup match against Colombia
18 years on and the memory is still fresh in the minds of football fans around the world
In the 73rd minute of the Confederations Cup semi-final between Cameroon and Colombia at Lyon’s Stade de Gerland, the powerful midfielder was jogging along innocuously.
No-one was close to him and nothing seemed wrong, yet suddenly he collapsed to the ground in the centre circle.
Medical and support staff attempted to resuscitate the player on the pitch, before carrying him on a stretcher to the bowels of the stadium, where attempts to restart his heart failed and the man known affectionately by his team-mates as ‘Marco’ was pronounced dead.
That was 18 years ago, on 26 June 2003, but the memories are still painfully fresh for Cameroonians.
Cameroon went on to win the match 1-0 , after the Foe was stretchered off the players never knew his condition was serious, they were reportedly celebrating in the dressing room after their victory before the news was brought to them.
After getting the news of Foe’s dead everyone was shocked.
There were doubts on whether the tournament will continue but during a press conference seven Cameroon players came out and they all spoke beautifully about their friend and team-mate and their desire to carry on in the tournament.
A first autopsy failed to establish the cause of the 28-year-old’s death, but a second found he been suffering from a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
The big question everyone asked was how could a fit, athletic footballer with no known history of heart problems have died in such a way?
Thierry Henry was in tears before the 2003 Confederations Cup final
After consultation with Foe’s widow, Marie-Louise, as well as his parents, Fifa decided that the Confederations Cup final between France and Cameroon should go ahead as planned. Many of France’s players, including striker Thierry Henry, were in tears as they lined up before the game.
A picture of Foe was shown on the big screen ahead of the game and Cameroon’s players held a huge photo of him during the trophy presentation to eventual winners France after a controversial Thierry Henry goal.
The midfielder was given a state funeral in Cameroon in July 2003 with FIFA president [Sep Blatter] present
Foe left behind a wife and sons aged six and three, as well as a daughter of only two months old. The player’s generosity had been legendary, and there were reports that he hadn’t much money left behind.
Foe was buried on the site of the football academy he had been having built in his hometown of Yaounde. He used to send a proportion of his wages home to his father Martin each month to fund the construction of the complex.
Foe had been on loan at Manchester City from Lyon in the 2002-03 season, making 35 appearances and scoring nine goals. City retired his number 23 shirt after his death, while a street was named after him in Lyon.
A positive result of Foe’s death has been huge improvements in both the testing of footballers for heart problems and the treatment they receive during matches
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