Dr. Théophile Abega: Africa’s Legendary Football Midfielder Has Died

Former Cameroon’s Legendary Football captain and one of Africa’s best ever Football Midfielders has died at the age of 58 (July 9, 1954 – November 15, 2012). He died of cardiac arrest at Yaoundé General Hospital, Yaoundé, Cameroon on 15 November 2012.

Théophile Abega was captain of Cameroon’s first African Cup of Nations-winning team in 1984.  He was also a former African footballer of the year. Abega played for Cameroon for more than 10 years as a midfielder. He was also part of the legendary first Cameroon squad that played at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

Two years later in 1984, as captain, he led the Indomitable Lions to their first African Cup of Nations title in Ivory Coast beating their opponents Nigeria 3-1. Abega scored the second goal for Cameroon in that final. Following that competition, he was voted the tournament’s best player and the African player of the year for 1984.

He was popularly and famously referred to as “Dr. Théophile Abega. The title of “Doctor of Football (Dr.) was famously bestowed on him by Cameroon’s greatest ever football commentator Zachary Nkwo. To Zachary Nkwo, he was a true doctor of football due to his magnificent football passing skills. It was the skills of Dr. Abega that saved Cameroon in 1982’s 1-1 equalizer against Italy just about two minutes after Italy scored against Cameroon.

Dr. Abega’s career also took him to France as a professional with the French Club FC Toulouse and then later in Switzerland with with FC Vevey-Sports 05. Before going abroad for professional football, Théophile Abega had been one of the best players in his beloved Canon Sportif Club of Yaoundé (the capital). Abega played club football for Canon Yaoundé where he won the 1978 African Cup of Champions Clubs, 1980 African Cup of Champions Clubs and 1979 African Cup Winners’ Cup titles. His passion for Canon Sportif was so strong so much so that after his retirement in 1987, he became the president of the club where he began his career.

In 2006, he was selected by the African Football Confederation with the French acronym CAF, as one of the best 200 African football players of the last 50 years.

Later on Abega also entered politics. He was elected mayor in 2002 of the Yaoundé IV district in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde. He held this post until his death.

While Africa and the world mourns the Dr. of clinical passes and unique skills, we are all reminded again that arguably none has so far come close to the football midfield talents of Dr. Theophile Abega.  He was one of Africa’s best ever footballers.