A Giant Has Fallen: Théophile Abega has died

By Peter Alegi | November 15th, 2012 3 Comments

Théophile Abega, the heart and soul of Cameroon’s superb national team of the 1980s, has died at the age of 58. Thoughtful, elegant, and tough, Abega had an illustrious club career with Canon Yaoundé. He was a dominant force in the team that twice won the African Champions Cup (1978, 1980), the African Cup Winners’ Cup (1976, 1979), and three domestic league titles. Abega’s only World Cup participation was in 1982 in Spain, where Cameroon drew all three group stage matches against Peru, Poland, and Italy.

I remember watching him on TV against my beloved Azzurri in an extraordinarily tense contest with qualification to the next round on the line. Abega’s composure, strength, and technique were striking. As a result of the 1-1 draw, Cameroon was eliminated on goal difference (number of goals scored in fact) but nevertheless enhanced the image of African football on the global stage. Two years later, as the video above demonstrates, Abega was at his footballing peak as Cameroon defeated Nigeria 3-1 in the 1984 African Nations Cup final. The Indomitable Lions returned to international glory at the 1990 World Cup in Italy (Roger Milla!), but by that time Abega had closed out his career with Toulouse in France and no longer commanded Cameroon’s midfield with his consummate professionalism and style.

May his soul rest in peace.


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November 15th, 2012 | 2:56 pm    

What a dribble just before the second goal!
I remember reports from 1982 in the English press for my PhD. Some writers just didn’t want to see Cameroon and Algeria there and said so.


November 27th, 2012 | 8:57 pm    

Good piece in The Guardian by Jonathan Wilson remembering Abega here:


maurice OSODO

September 12th, 2014 | 5:23 am    

Prolific ,admirable he was the epitome of fine football ,not just African foot ball. I watched him in 1982 and the memory is still very fresh in my mind, quite nostalgic indeed , I thought Theophile Abega Mbida never dies.May God rest his soul in peace.

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