By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com – Cameroon
Former Indomitable Lions midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba has revealed the final words of his fallen international teammate Marc-Vivien Foe, before he tragically collapsed on the pitch in their Confederations Cup game against Colombia in 2003.
The former Canon of Yaoundé, Lens, West Ham, Lyon and Manchester City midfielder is reported to have told his teammates hours before Cameroon’s semi-final clash with Colombia, that he was ready to die on the pitch if that’s what they needed to get a win.
Former FC Nantes midfielder Djemba-Djemba must have been one of the first to see the giant soft spoken Cameroon midfielder go down. The then Manchester United midfielder was Foe’s midfield partner in the competition.
“I will not forget what he said to us in the bus before we played,”Djemba-Djemba told The Sun.
“He said ‘if someone needs to die today, we will die. We don’t need to lose that game because I promised my wife and children we need to go to the final. I need to win the Confederations Cup’ “.
According to Djemba-Djemba, Foe began to complain of tiredness and a change was already lined-up, just waiting for the ball to out.
Foe was later involved in an aerial challenge with uncompromising Colombian defender, Mario Yepes.
The Cameroon midfielder eventually collapsed in the center of the Gerland playground, where he had been a devoted servant of Olympique Lyonnais. It must be said that Foe’s collapsing could not be attributed to his challenge with Mario Yepes.
“I saw Foe fall down and then I saw Mario Yepes shouting, ‘Hey, hey, hey’, “ Djemba-Djemba added.
“We walked over to him and we knew he was dead straight away.”
Foe was taken-off and eventually died in a night that Cameroon were making history to become the only African team to qualify for a FIFA Confederations Cup final, after holding on to Pius Ndiefi’s goal to beat Colombia 1-0.
Djemba-Djemba, 38, now playing for FC Vallaorbe-Ballaigues in the Swiss fifth tier, said the rest of the Cameroon team were “afraid” to carry on playing the competition.
But the then FIFA President Sepp Blatter, paid the team a visit at their hotel and convinced them to play the final against France for the memory and honour of their fallen teammate. Thierry Henry’s late strike was the difference in an emotional final.
An autopsy report on Foe later revealed that he died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary situation, known to multiply the risk of sudden death when one with such a condition undergoes demanding physical exercise.
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