Eric Djemba Djemba recalls Marc-Vivien Foe's tragic death, including chilling moment he vowed to die on the football pitch
ERIC DJEMBA DJEMBA has recalled the chilling moment his former Cameroon team-mate Marc-Vivien Foe declared he was ready to die on the football pitch.
The former West Ham and Man City midfielder made the bold statement just hours before their crucial Confederations Cup semi-final against Colombia, the game in which he collapsed in the centre circle and passed away in 2003.
"I will never forget what he said to us on the bus before we played," Djemba Djemba 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.'"
Djemba Djemba was Foe's midfield partner that fateful day at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon.
“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.”
After the game, which Cameroon won to set up a final against France, Djemba Djemba admitted he was afraid to put on his boots again.
“I didn’t want to play again," he said.
"Everyone was afraid to play the game. We won 1-0 and we needed to play the final.
“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?"
Djemba Djemba recalled how former Fifa President Sepp Blatter paid a visit to Cameroon's hotel in Saint-Etienne and put pressure on the team to play.
"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.
“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.”
A second autopsy revealed Foe's death was heart-related.
The results revealed he died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary condition known to increase the risk of sudden death during physical exercise.
Foe's widow Marie-Louise later revealed that her late husband had been ill with gastric problems and dysentery before the game.
However, he was adamant that he wanted to play because the match was being played in his adopted hometown of Lyon.
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