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Theophile Abega: "Doctor of soccer"

Théophile Abéga sous le maillot des Lions indomptables.
Theophile Abega: "Doctor of soccer"

Despite his death on November 15, 2012 from a heart attack at age 58, the story of the Cameroonian legend and his mind-boggling dribbles continues to be told.

 

He was one of the greatest footballers of his generation in Africa. The best on the continent in 1984 and a legend in Cameroon. Theophile Abega was a wonder on the field. Any good observer of the game knows that he was one of those players who could do everything with a ball. Usually camped in the middle of the field, he directed the maneuver, directed the game, gave the turn to his opponents, offered goal balls and did not hesitate to score some himself. Often with surgical strikes of which he alone had the secret. A virtuoso who became a conductor over time.

Although they are eternal, legends eventually fade away. And fate wanted the one who was called "Doctor" to die on November 15, 2012, at 58, after a heart attack. The tragedy occurred in Yaoundé, the city where he honed his career, where he showed the world that soccer was for artists. "He is one of those players whose legends have guided my steps and my desires. Putting on the armband he proudly wore is now more than an honor for me, and his death is a tragedy for soccer," Samuel Eto'o reacted at the time.

The revelation at Canon Yaoundé
Born on July 9, 1954 in Nkomo, one of the poorest districts of Yaoundé, Théophile Abéga fell into the cauldron of the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium at a very young age. He was just recruited by Canon Sportif de Yaoundé and played his first game in the final of the Cameroon Cup in 1977. On the bench at the kick-off, it is he who offers the victory to his team during the extra time. It was the beginning of a long history with the mythical club of Mvog-Ada.

Théophile Abéga quickly became a starter and captain of the "Mekok Mengonda". With the Red and Green, he won trophies at the national and continental levels. He won the national championship 4 times (1977, 1979, 1980 and 1982) and an African Cup Winners Cup (1979). But also two African Champions Cup (1978 and 1980) respectively in front of Hafia Conakry of Guinea and AS Bilima of DR Congo.

Distinctions
Already well known in the Cameroonian capital, Théophile Abega joined the national team. He became the captain and leader of the first golden generation of the Indomitable Lions who finished undefeated at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Two years later, the best Cameroonian player of the years 1982 and 1983 offers the first title of African champion to his country (AFCON 1984). He was voted best player of the tournament, before winning the same year the Ballon d'Or which rewards the best player of the continent. His leadership and his brilliant performances opened the doors to France.

The man with 37 caps for Cameroon arrived in Toulouse (France) the day after this victorious AFCON. He played 22 games and scored 3 goals in all competitions with the team. Then, he flies to Vevey in Switzerland (1895-1987). This time, his stay does not go as he had hoped. Despite playing 41 games and scoring 6 goals, an internal crisis at the club and a knee operation forced him to end his career.

From soccer to politics
Back in his native Cameroon, he became president of the Canon Sportif de Yaoundé in 1989. An emblematic figure of the city, he was co-opted by members of the ruling party, the Rassemblement démocratique du peuple camerounais CPDM. One thing leading to another, Théophile Abéga established solid relationships in the political arena. The executives of the party contributed to make him the deputy mayor of the commune of Yaoundé IV (1996-2002). Five years later, he was elected mayor of the same commune. A position he will occupy until his death ... five years later.

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