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.

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness