14, February 2020
The football world was thrown into mourning when the Cameroon legend died after collapsing during a Confederations Cup game in Lyon
Former Cameroon international Eric Djemba Djemba has revealed the last words of Marc-Vivien before he collapsed in their Fifa Confederations Cup semi-final game against Colombia.
In June 2003, Djemba Djemba was playing alongside Foe in the middle of the park for the Indomitable Lions when the former Manchester City and Lyon midfielder fell without contact from any player.
Efforts to revive Foe following the collapse proved futile as he was confirmed dead on arrival at the stadium’s medical centre, with an autopsy confirming hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as the cause of his death.
On their way to the Stade de Gerland, Djemba Djemba said the 28-year-old talked about death on the team bus on that fateful day and complained of fatigue during the match that ended 1-0 in favour of Cameroon.
“I will never forget what he said to us on the bus before we played,” the ex-Manchester United midfielder told SunSport.
“He said, ‘if someone needs to die today, we will die. We don’t need to lose that game because I promised to my wife and children we need to go to that final. I need to win the Confederations Cup.’
“I was the last person that talked to him. He said to me just before, ‘Eric, I am tired.’
“So I said to him, when the ball goes out, we’ll tell the coach, and he will substitute him.
“But he didn’t have one minute. The ball was in the air and he jumped up with Mario Yepes, who I played with at Nantes.
“I saw Foe fall down and then I saw Mario shouting, ‘Hey, hey, hey’. We walked over to him and we knew he was dead straight away.”
Djemba Djemba, 38, who is currently plying his trade in Swiss fifth division, admitted the tragic incident nearly made him quit football.
“I didn’t want to play again. Everyone was afraid to play the game. We won 1-0, and we needed to play the final,” he added.
“But we said we don’t want to play. We couldn’t sleep that night, everyone was crying. How could you go to play football and die?”
The sudden demise of Foe made Cameroon reluctant to play in the Confederations Cup final but efforts from ex-Fifa president Sepp Blatter, and Foe’s widow Marie-Louise, charged them to play the encounter which they lost 1-0 to France.
“He spoke to us and said he understood it was difficult, but added Fifa didn’t know what to do because we had got to the final,” he continued.
“Then Marc’s wife came to the hotel, and she said to us we need to play for him, for her and her children.
“So we went to play and we lost the game 1-0. Thierry Henry scored. But we weren’t in the right frame of mind.”
In paying tribute to the Indomitable Lions legend, France and Cameroon players held the Confederations Cup together while Foe was named the third-best player in the competition and was posthumously honoured.