We were approaching the end of the match and we were leading one goal to nil. Cameroon was preparing to reach the final of the Confederations Cup, the opportunity was magnificent. There were less than twenty minutes left against Colombia. As part of the delegation, I was obviously present, seated in the gallery. I had been placed next to a Cameroonian minister who had also made the trip, and whose name I have forgotten. These are distant and painful memories. Talking about it brings tears to my eyes.
When I saw Marc-Vivien Foé fall, I immediately thought of an injury. He was coming out of a duel with a Colombian player, I me I said that the confrontation had been a bit physical and that he must have hurt himself. Or that it was a stroke of fatigue – after all, it was the end of the competition. At that time, it was unimaginable that it could be anything serious. Marc-Vivien Foé was so young…
But he stayed on the ground. I don’t know how long, but those moments seemed endless. People started wondering, we were all waiting for the referee to call the medical team. Marc-Vivien Foé did not get up. The minister at my side was worried, me even more. I started asking myself serious questions.
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It was very confusing: the match was stopped, nobody understood what was happening. But when the doctors took Marc-Vivien Foé out of the field on a stretcher, and we saw his arm hanging by the side, I knew it was more serious than we thought. I let the minister know that I was going to see and I went down to the locker room.
like a son
Along the way, I ran into the Olympique Lyonnais doctor. He immediately told me that Marc-Vivien was dead, that they hadn’t been able to revive him. It was a terrible shock. To learn that the one I considered a son had just died… But I had to go see and almost twenty years later, it is still very difficult to talk about it.
The doctor led me to the locker room. Marc-Vivien Foé was inside, alone. He was lying down, his body was covered with a sheet. It was very hard. I thought the lord decided it had to happen. And that it had happened.
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On the lawn, the match was over, Cameroon had won. The players didn’t know what had just happened. I first gave the news to the Minister. Then I went to see the team. Everyone was looking for answers, they didn’t know where Marc-Vivien Foé was, or how he was doing. The locker room was very quiet, everyone was waiting for news. When they saw me arrive, I think they immediately understood that what I had to say to them was serious.
It was a shock for them. They got dressed in silence, no one had the strength to speak. The team went back to the hotel and I went to the hospital where Marc-Vivien had been taken to the morgue. His wife was already there, warned by the doctors.
We had to go back to find the players, there was nothing more to wait for. To prepare for the final against France, the team was supposed to train the next day but nobody had the heart to the faire.