Marc-Vivien Foé, 1975-2003, Cameroonian international footballer.
Marc-Vivien Foé, died on June 26, 2003, after collapsing during the semi-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Lyon, France. Foé collapsed in the second half of the match, between Cameroon and Colombia, and broadcast around the globe. It was apparent that Foé was in a bad way as soon as he collapsed, and although he was stretched off and received prompt medical attention he could not be saved, his death being announced later that evening. At the time of writing, cause of death has not been ascertained.
Foé was part of a generation of African footballers making large inroads into the European game. At 6ft 3in he was a commanding presence in midfield and colleagues, managers and supporters could all attest to his popularity and good character. Foé's career started after Cameroon had made the most successful showing for an African nation at the 1990 World Cup, whilst the young Foé was establishing himself playing for Canon Yaounde, who won the Cameroonian league in 1993 and 1995. At the age of 19, he played in every game as the Cameroon side disappointed in the 1994 World Cup.
In 1995, Foé made the journey to Europe, joining the provincial French side of Lens. He would excel in France and in the 97/98 season, helped Lens win le Championnat for the first time in their history. Unfortunately, a broken leg would prevent Foé playing in that years World Cup in France. Even worse, this injury prevented a proposed move to Manchester United going ahead, after manager Alex Ferguson had agreed a fee with the French team.
In January 1999, Foé did move to England, signing for the London team West Ham United. Despite a cultish following among supporters, Foé never settled down in the team and a year later he went back to France to join Olympique Lyonnais. Throughout this time Foé, when fit, was a regular in the Cameroon international side, and was an integral part of the Cameroon team which won the African Nations Cup in 2002 and 2002. 2002 also brought another le Championnat win, this time as part of the Lyonnais side, and another summer would be spent at a World Cup, this time in Japan.
After the World Cup, Foé was loaned to Manchester City where he had a much better season compared to his time at West Ham. Anchoring the midfield, Foé played 35 league games and scored 9 goals, including the last ever goal at Manchester City's former home of Maine Road before the team moved to the new Commonwealth Stadium.
After Foé's shocking death, the football world united in grief and condolences to Foé's wife and 3 children were received from many of the game's top figures. Cameroon, who made their way to the Confederation Cup final were defeated by a goal from Frenchman Thierry Henry, who dedicated his winning goal to the memory of Foé. His friend and captain, Rigobert Song gave some idea of Foé's character with the revelation of his sadly prophetic last words to his teammates as they left the dressing room at halftime:-
"Boys, even if it means dying on the pitch, we must win this semi-final."