Redknapp leads the tributes as Foé's death shocks game

Tragically, it is not that unusual for perfectly fit young men to drop dead of a heart attack. Although the exact cause of Marc-Vivien Foé's death in the Stade Gerland has yet to be precisely diagnosed, Sudden Death Syndrome is the biggest killer of men under 35 and the majority are the kind who regularly go to gyms.

The Cameroon international, who collapsed during the 1-0 victory in Lyon - the city he helped to a French title last year - which guaranteed his team a now meaningless place in the Confederations Cup final, is merely the most high-profile of a list of athletes to have died of heart failure seemingly without explanation.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy leads to a thickening of the walls of the heart, irregular heartbeats and an irregular pumping action that is often triggered after a heavy workout. The victim may feel chest pains but often the attacks are without warning.

It had not yet been diagnosed when in 1890 Archie Hunter, a Scot who had captained Aston Villa to the FA Cup, suffered a heart attack while playing against Everton. Although Hunter survived he died four years later.

A century afterwards, David Longhurst collapsed and died while playing for York against Lincoln at a televised match at Bootham Crescent, where there is now a stand that bears his name. Daniel Yorath was 15 and had just signed for his father's old club, Leeds United, when in 1992 he died while playing football with his dad. John Marshall, a product of the National Football School of Excellence, suffered a similar fate on the day he was due to join Everton, as did Ian Bell a teenager on Hartlepool's books.

Whether or not Sudden Death Syndrome claimed Foé, observers agreed the midfielder, who spent last season on loan from Lyon at Manchester City, was supremely fit. Harry Redknapp, who managed him for a season at West Ham, recalled: "Never have I seen someone in better physical condition than Marc and you couldn't have met a nicer boy. Everybody at West Ham loved him, you just have to look at the reaction of the French players when they were told of his death to see that."

His impact in his one season with City was enormously effective. "Some signings you know are just right and this one is," his manager, Kevin Keegan declared last summer, although many at Maine Road regretted the club could not afford the £7m to make the deal permanent.

Keegan often used him as a floating player in a five-man midfield and when Newcastle came to Maine Road in August, Sir Bobby Robson dramatically altered the Magpies' tactics to deal with him, an experiment that backfired badly in a 1-0 defeat. In a 3-0 win at Sunderland in December, Foé displayed the full range of a talent that once encouraged Sir Alex Ferguson to bring him to Old Trafford.

Dave Wallace, editor of the City fanzine King of the Kippax, said: "A lot of the crowd were dubious about him at first but then he started belting in goals from all over the place. A lot of City fans wanted us to buy him but the price posed problems, although when it dropped by a couple of million quid we should have gone for it."

It is, of course, utterly crass to mention it now but Foé was regarded as something of an unlucky footballer. But for Redknapp's desire to bring in Frédéric Kanouté from Lyon - for whom Foé was effectively swapped - he might have enjoyed a longer career at Upton Park. A broken leg in the spring of 1998 not only cost him a place in the Cameroon squad for the World Cup finals, it scuppered a deal that would have taken him from Lens to Manchester United for roughly the £4m Redknapp later paid. Ferguson was sufficiently impressed to take him for specialist trials and treatment but could not conclude a deal before the Champions' League transfer deadline.

His time at Lyon was marred by a bout of malaria, although he eventually won the French Championnat in 2002 at the stadium in which he was to die. Marc-Vivien Foé might have been remembered as a very great footballer. Now he will be remembered for the manner of his death.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...