Cameroon legend Stephen Tataw passes away at 57

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Former Cameroon captain Stephen Tataw has died at the age of 57 from an illness, as confirmed in a statement made by Fecafoot president Seidou Mbombo Njoya on Friday.

Tataw was famously known for leading the Indomitable Lions to a first World Cup outing in 1990 where they reached the quarter-finals but lost out to England 3-2 after extra-time. They became the first African side to reach that stage, an achievement which has since been equalled by Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

Born in the capital city of Yaounde on March 31, 1963, Tataw’s club career began with his hometown side Tonnerre Yaounde before moving to Olympic Mvolye in 1991 and then joining Japanese side Tosu Futures in 1994, playing there until 1996 where he finally called time on his career. He was the first African player to ply his trade in the Far East country.

“It was with sad emotions that I learned the death of former Indomitable Lions Captain Stephen Tataw today,” Mbombo Nioya said on Twitter. “I keep the memory of a great footballer and a remarkable leader.

“All my condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Tataw played for the Cameroon national team between 1986 and 1994 and won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1988, seeing off bitter rivals Nigeria 1-0 in Casablanca.

In the 1992 edition, the Super Eagles got the better of the Indomitable Lions in the third/fourth place playoff, winning 2-1 courtesy of goals from Rashidi Yekini and Friday Ekpo.

Tataw led Cameroon to the 1994 World Cup in the United States, but they failed to replicate the heroics of the 1990 edition in Italy, this time crashing out of the group phase, finishing last in Group B behind eventual champions Brazil, Sweden and Russia.

Cameroon’s most-capped player and former skipper Rigobert song described Tataw as an “emblematic captain”, asserting he had some of his attributes when he also took over the captain responsibilities of his country.

“I had a personal relationship with him. I feel very indebted to him. He was an emblematic captain,” Song was quoted saying on the Fecafoot website. “I had the opportunity to know and meet him during the 1994 World Cup and then I was young.

“I was with seniors who played with him in 1990. He greatly touched my life… he was modest and very present in the field of play and when I became captain, I think I had the same spirit.

“He gave reason to spectators to want to watch matches. He was reserved yet very efficient. This is a major loss. When he called me captain, I told him you are the true captain.

“Man proposes and God disposes. May he rest in peace.”

Tataw was a member of the Fecafoot technical directorate before his death and was among the officials to preside over the draws of 2020 Africa Nations Championship, which was to be held in Cameroon between April 4 and 25, but was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic and has since been shifted to January 2021.

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