By EMMANUEL TUMANJONG
YAOUNDE,Cameroon (AP) — Theophile Abega, the captain of Cameroon's first African Cup of Nations-winning team and a former African footballer of the year, has died.
He was 58. The Cameroon Football Federation confirmed Abega's death on Thursday. Federation president Iya Mohammed said it was with "deep regret" that he announced the passing of an "exceptional player."
The federation did not give a cause of death but Cameroon media reported that Abega had died at Yaounde General Hospital of a cardiac arrest.
Abega played for his country for over a decade as a midfielder and was part of the first Cameroon team to play at a World Cup — in Spain in 1982. He led the Indomitable Lions to their first African title in Ivory Coast two years later, where he scored his team's second goal in the final in a 3-1 win over Nigeria.
He was voted that tournament's best player and the African player of the year for 1984.
Abega also played for French club Toulouse and gained the nickname "Le Docteur" — "The Doctor" — for his precise passing. His last spell as a professional was in Switzerland.
After his retirement in 1987, Abega became the president of Yaounde club Canon Sportif, the club where he began his career and where he won two African Champions' Cup titles, the pre-cursor to the African Champions League.
Abega also entered politics and was elected mayor of a district in the Cameroonian capital in 2002, but he retained his commitment to football in Cameroon. "
Abega was a diligent player and manager who had much love for young players as he wanted to ensure the efficiency and continuity of our football," Abega's former teammate at Canon Sportif, Victor N'Dip Akem, said-The Associated Press