Marc-Vivien Foé (1 May 1975 – 26 June 2003) was a Cameroonian international footballer, who played as a midfielder for both club and country. Foé had success in France's Division 1 and England's Premier League, before his sudden death during an international competitive match which shocked the football community worldwide. He was posthumously decorated with the Commander of the National Order of Valour.
Foé playing for Cameroon in 2003
|Full name||Marc-Vivien Foé|
|Date of birth||1 May 1975|
|Place of birth||Yaoundé, Cameroon|
|Date of death||26 June 2003(aged 28)|
|Place of death||Lyon, France|
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|1991–1992||Union de Garoua|
|1999–2000||West Ham United||38||(1)|
|2002–2003||→ Manchester City (loan)||35||(9)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Foé was born on 1 May 1975 in Yaoundé. He started as a junior with Second Division Union Garoua. Moving to Canon Yaoundé, one of the biggest clubs in Cameroon, he won the Cameroonian Cup in 1993. 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. Marred by financial and disciplinary disputes, the 1994 Cameroon squad was a shadow compared to the quarter-finals in 1990. Cameroon mustered just one point from three matches, and finished with a 6–1 defeat to Russia. However, Foé's performances (including a goal assist) prompted interest from European clubs.
After turning down Auxerre for a trainee position, he signed for another French club, RC Lens of Ligue 1. 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.
In 1998, he was targeted by Manchester United, but Lens refused a £3 million offer. Further negotiations were curtailed abruptly after he broke a leg at Cameroon's pre-World Cup training camp, and missed the 1998 World Cup.
Shortly after his recovery, he moved to English Premier League club West Ham United, for a club record £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 from malaria. After recovery, he won the Coupe de la Ligue in 2001, and the Division 1 league title a year later.
He was on the Cameroon squad in the 2002 World Cup. As in 1994, he played in all of Cameroon's matches. Though the team performed better since 1994, they were again eliminated. At the group stage, they beat Saudi Arabia, drew with Ireland and lost to Germany.
Foé returned to the 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. His first goal for the club came against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on 9 December 2002, and he scored five more goals in the next month. His second goal in a 3–0 victory against Sunderland on 21 April 2003 was the club's final goal at their Maine Road stadium.
Foé was part of the Cameroon squad for the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, a tournament played between continental champions from six continents, World Cup holder and the next edition host nation. He played in wins against Brazil and Turkey, and was rested for the match against the United States, with Cameroon having already qualified.
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. 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.
Foé's widow Marie-Louise stated that he had been ill with gastric problems and dysentery before his final match, but he was adamant to play in his adopted hometown of Lyon. Manager Winfried Schafer wanted to substitute him minutes before his collapse, observing that the player seemed fatigued, but he signalled that he wanted to continue.
Foé was a practising Roman Catholic and gave money to charity.
Foé's death caused a profound shock. Numerous tributes to his joyous personality and infectious humour were expressed in the media. Also Thierry Henry and other players pointed to the sky in tribute to Foé after Henry had opened the scoring against Turkey in France's Confederations Cup semi-final that evening.
It was suggested that the Confederations Cup and the Stade Gerland could have been renamed after him, and Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan announced that the club would no longer use the number 23 shirt Foé wore during his successful season there. At Manchester City's former ground, Maine Road, there is a small memorial to him in the stadium's memorial garden, and on the walls of the players' tunnel are plaques paid for by supporters, with their names, dubbed the Walk of Pride. The first plaque on the wall is for Marc and reads "Marc Vivien Foé – 1975–2003". His first club Lens gave his name to an avenue near the Stade Félix Bollaert. Foé was given a state funeral in Cameroon. Lens decided to withdraw the number 17 shirt that Foé wore for five years.
Lyon also decided to withdraw the number 17 shirt that Foé wore a year before when he played at the Stade de Gerland with the Lyon team. People in Lyon were shocked as he had received a warm welcome on his return to the stadium. However, when fellow Cameroonian Jean II Makoun was transferred to Lyon, Makoun took up the number 17 shirt, explaining that he wore the number: "In memory of Marc, for me and for the whole Cameroon, this will be for something."
Prior to the kick-off of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup final between the United States and Brazil, his son, then fourteen years old, gave a brief speech in memory of his father.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|France||League||Coupe de France||Coupe de la Ligue||Europe||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1998–99||West Ham United||FA Premier League||13||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||13||0|
|France||League||Coupe de France||Coupe de la Ligue||Europe||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|2002–03||Manchester City||FA Premier League||35||9||1||0||2||0||0||0||38||9|
- Cameroon score listed first, score column indicates score after each Foé goal.
|1||24 December 1995||Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaoundé, Cameroon||10||Liberia||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|2||22 January 2000||Accra Sports Stadium, Accra, Ghana||28||Ghana||1–0||1–1||2000 African Cup of Nations|
|3||6 February 2000||31||Algeria||2–0||2–1|
|4||19 April 2000||Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaoundé, Cameroon||34||Somalia||2–0||3–0||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|5||1 July 2001||42||Togo||2–0||2–0|
|6||14 July 2001||Independence Stadium, Lusaka, Zambia||43||Zambia||1–0||2–2|
|7||7 January 2002||Stade du 4 Août, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso||45||Burkina Faso||1–0||3–1||Friendly|
|8||7 February 2002||Stade du 26 Mars, Bamako, Mali||51||Mali||3–0||3–0||2002 African Cup of Nations|
- Canon Yaoundé
- West Ham United
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