The Death of Marc-Vivien Foe

Marc-Vivien Foe
Dejected Cameroon players with a tribute photo of Marc-Vivien Foe. Ben Radford / Getty Images

Marc-Vivien Foe’s death in 2003 is one of the greatest tragedies seen on a soccer pitch.

The Cameroon midfielder was playing for his country at France’s Stade de Gerland against Colombia in the Confederations Cup semi-finals when he collapsed in the center circle after 72 minutes.

The 28-year-old was stretchered off after attempts to resuscitate him and continued to receive mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen off the field.

Medics spent 45 minutes attempting to save his life and although he was still alive after being taken to the Gerland’s medical center, he died shortly afterward.

Foe actually belonged to Lyon, the club who play at the Gerland but had spent the previous season in England on loan at Manchester City, playing 35 league games.

What Caused Marc-Vivien Foe's Death?

A first autopsy did not determine an exact cause of death, but a second autopsy concluded that Foe died from natural causes. His death was caused by a heart condition.

"He was suffering from a cardiomyopathy hypertrophia [abnormally enlarged] left ventricle, something that is almost untraceable without carrying out an extensive examination”, Public prosecutor Xavier Richaud said.

Richaud also suggested that intense activity stimulated the problem.

"There was a degeneration which triggered a major reaction in the heart”, he added.

Foe was regarded as something of a gentle giant, with Harry Redknapp, who brought him to West Ham in 1999, quoted in the Guardian: "I don't think he ever made an enemy in his life".

Known for his generosity off the field, Foe funded a soccer academy for boys and girls in Yaounde.

"He gave it all willingly," Walter Gagg, FIFA's technical director, told the Daily Telegraph, "to family, friends and everyone else who asked. It is so ironic that, at the crucial moment, his heart was not strong enough to save him, because Marc-Vivien Foe had a great heart. He was a wonderful man".

Foe’s widow suggested that doctors should have stopped the midfielder playing because he had been suffering from dysentery.

He was also survived by his three children.