Newsletter #928


Tonight’s issue is essentially about Marc Vivien Foe. We have plenty of tributes, a summary from Don, and opinion from subscribers out there.

Thanks to the hundreds who responded to the possibility of a fans’ tribute fund, with responses from as far afield as China and Australasia to North America and Europe. Having spoken to the relevant authorities, we hope to announce details in the next couple of days, which will link into the charity work Foe carried out in his home country for youth football development.

In the meantime, you can start sorting out your unwanted football shirts, and if Dave Clinton is out there, please get in touch as your expertise is required!


Marc-Vivien Foe died last Thursday night after collapsing while playing for Cameroon against Colombia in Lyon. Doctors at the Stade Gerland said that the 28-year-old’s heart had stopped after he was carried off on a stretcher during the match and that they had spent 45 minutes trying to revive him. Foe fell to the ground in the centre circle with no opposition player near him after 72 minutes of the Confederations Cup semi-final tie. Play was stopped for six minutes as he was taken to the touchline, where medical staff tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen, but efforts to revive him were in vain. A minute’s silence was observed at the Stade de France in Paris, where France were facing Turkey in the other semi-final of the Confederations Cup. Players such as Thierry Henry and goalkeeper Gregory Coupet were in tears as the teams lined up. Coupet and Sidney Govou, both team-mates of Foe at Lyon, broke down in tears as the national anthems were played while French coach Jacques Santini, who used to be in charge at the French champions, also had tears in his eyes. Henry dedicated the opening goal against Turkey to him, pointing to the sky after netting in the 12th minute.

City are considering a number of ways of paying tribute to Foe, who played 35 games for the Blues last season, scoring 9 times including the last ever goal by a City player at Maine Road. The club have already announced that they will ‘retire’ his number 23 shirt and there is also the possibility of a friendly with West Ham, the other Premiership side Foe played for. City’s club chaplain led a prayer outside Maine Road on Friday, and fans lined up to sign a book of condolence.

Here are some of the tributes given by Foe’s many friends, colleagues and acquaintances.


Kevin Keegan was reported to be too distraught to comment on Thursday, but by Friday he was making the following comments: “Marc was not only a special footballer but a very special person,” said KK. “We will all miss his smile and his personality. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him and he was the ultimate professional loved by everyone in the dressing room and the boardroom. He never gave this club less than 100% and was a big factor in us finishing ninth in the table. He only missed two games all season and one of those was to be at the birth of his new baby. We are all distraught, especially Arthur Cox who loved Marco. Our hearts go out to Marco’s young family and Manchester City will do all we can for them at this terrible time. I felt it was a privilege to work with him for the past year and we were still in the process of trying to negotiate a deal that would have made him a City player,” added Keegan. “You perhaps had to get to know Marco a bit to fully enjoy his personality – certainly his dress sense – but he was universally liked. Everyone knows what a wonderful player he was but more than that he was a fine human being. I think the warmth of his fellow professionals, as witnessed by the reaction of the French players last night, says more than anything I can say about the love that surrounded Marco. I will never forget the day I blasted him for not looking me in the eye when I was telling him something and the knock on the door that followed a few minutes later when he informed that where he came from if you respected someone you didn’t look them in the eye. He had the ability to make us all smile and feel better. We will miss him.”

The club issued the following statement on the club website: “Manchester City Football Club are devastated to hear the tragic news of Marc-Vivien Foe’s death this evening. Whilst at City, Marc made an excellent contribution to our successful return to the Premiership and was very highly regarded by his fellow players. He will be sadly missed by his team-mates, not just as a player but also as a friend. All of our thoughts are with his family at this time.” Later that evening Chairman John Wardle said on BBC Radio 5 that “Foe was wonderful to have around the club. He always had a smile on his face and was humble as well. He also scored the last-ever goal at Maine Road and he will go down in history for that. You can see how the fans felt. Within a few hours of Marc’s death they were here at Maine Road and the tributes were laid and you can see how the fans loved him.”

Director of football Dennis Tueart added: “Marc did a terrific job for us as a player and is greatly revered in his country as an ambassador. This is something you can’t legislate for. We have been looking forward to going to the new stadium but this has put a dampener on everything. I’ve spoken to Kevin Keegan this morning and to say he is devastated is an understatement. He is very emotional. We have laid a wreath in honour of Marc and are retiring his shirt. Everything else will be considered in the future.”

It was good to hear former Chairman David Bernstein on national radio, paying his own tribute. “It is difficult to comprehend,” he told Radio Five Live. “He settled into our club very, very quickly and was a popular member of team. He was a very gentle person and a very gentle man. He was a real professional on and off the pitch and he was a great credit to his club and country. He was a powerful player, a powerful man, the sort of player who gives you great confidence on the pitch and he had a tremendous season for us. It is just unbelievable that this could happen to such a powerful, strong man.”

City’s director of community affairs Alex Williams gave an insight into the kind of person Foe was off the pitch. “He was such a lovely fella and to die the way he did is devastating. It has not really sunk in,” said the former City goalkeeper. “Marc was always first to say hello to the kids and sign autographs, he was just that sort of a chap.” Williams told Sky Sports News he was stunned that such a tragic event could happen in an age when everything from what players eat to how they live their lives is closely scrutinised. “You don’t expect it to happen these days,” he said. “The players have personal fitness programmes and medical back-up at clubs. Obviously there was something there that came to the forefront last night. Foe was a box-to-box player and he made it look effortless and it is not and you don’t expect it to happen to players of his calibre and fitness level.”


Harry Redknapp brought Foe to English football in 1998, when the Cameroon international signed for West Ham United. An obviously distressed Redknapp gave an immediate reaction to the tragedy. “It’s come as such a shock – he was such a powerful, strong man. Never have I seen someone in better physical condition than Marc – and you couldn’t have met a nicer boy than him. Everybody at West Ham loved him and you only have to see the reactions of the French players tonight when they were lining up for the national anthems to see how popular he was in the game. Everyone who came into contact with him would have loved the man. He was such a special person and a terrific footballer. Marc was a great young man – it’s so sad.” Redknapp revealed that Foe was close to becoming a United player. “Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign him for Manchester United but he broke his leg the day before,” the Portsmouth manager said. “I know Alex will be devastated. He spoke to him a lot over the last five or six years. Marc was a great young man. It’s so sad.”


MVF, like all members of the Cameroon team, were national heroes back home. In the wake of his death, there was debate whether the Indomitable Lions should take the field for Sunday’s final as a mark of respect. Cameroon legend Roger Milla, a star of the 1990 World Cup, said Foe’s team-mates should play. “We are heartbroken at this news,” said Milla. “Marc was a great man and someone we all loved. He was our brother and we must play on Sunday for our brother. He will be so badly missed by everyone here and I still can’t accept that I’ll never see him again. We must come to terms with this tragedy but it will take so long.”

Rigobert Song, the Cameroon captain, said: “We started as kids together, we shared so much and he was like a brother. He’s a neighbour from my district of Yaound