Tributes are pouring in for the Senegalese footballer who scored the first goal of the 2002 World Cup against defending France.
Papa Bouba Diop, a former midfielder who has represented Senegal more than 60 times and played for several European football clubs, has died at the age of 42, following a long illness.
Diop scored the first goal of the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and South Korea when Senegal shocked defending champions France by beating them 1-0 in the opener.
The Senegalese football federation confirmed Diop’s death on Sunday.
Former French club Lens said they heard the news with “great sadness” and offered condolences to their family, while West London side Fulham, another former club, said they were “devastated” by ‘learn of his death.
World football’s governing body FIFA, through its World Cup Twitter account, said it was “saddened to learn of the death of Senegalese legend Papa Bouba Diop”.
“Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero.”
FIFA is saddened to learn of the death of Senegalese legend Papa Bouba Diop.
Once a World Cup hero, still a World Cup hero. pic.twitter.com/akUJoPxCal
– FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 29, 2020
At the 2002 World Cup, Diop scored two more goals in Senegal’s 3-3 draw with Uruguay in the group stage to become their top scorer in the tournament as they reached the quarter-finals.
In all, the versatile defensive midfielder has made 63 appearances for his country with 11 goals.
Diop started his career with Senegalese club ASC Diaraf before moving to Switzerland to Vevey, Neuchâtel Xamax and Grasshoppers before joining French club Lens in 2002.
A move to Fulham followed and he spent three years at the club before a move to Portsmouth, where he was part of the squad that won the 2007-08 FA Cup.
He also had short stays at West Ham United and Birmingham City before retiring from the game seven years ago.
Diop would have had Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, according to British media.
Fulham and Portsmouth paid tribute on Twitter to the player dubbed “The Wardrobe”.
For you, wardrobe.
RIP Papa Bouba Diop. 🖤 pic.twitter.com/f0WHEVvhka
– Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) November 29, 2020
– Portsmouth FC (@Pompey) November 29, 2020
Ex-Portsmouth midfielder Chris Kamara said he was devastated to read the news.
Devastated to have read the news of the death of Papa Bouba Diop. I didn’t know he was sick and at 42 he was taken away too young. We used to laugh together about me calling him “The Mountain Man Himself” RIP Papa
– Chris Kamara (@chris_kammy) November 29, 2020
“I didn’t know he was sick… he was taken away too young,” Kamara tweeted. “We used to have a good laugh together about me calling him ‘The Mountain Man Himself’. RIP Dad. “
Former Portsmouth goalkeeper David James also expressed his sadness over the death of Diop, whom he described as a ‘true gentleman’.
Such sad news, one of the friendliest and most charming people I have ever had the pleasure of playing football with
Papa Bouba Diop
January 28, 1978 – November 29, 2020
A real gentleman, RIP my friend 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/k5s61g7R21
– David James (@jamosfoundation) November 29, 2020
“It’s terribly sad,” tweeted former England striker and TV presenter Gary Lineker. “Taken so young. RIP Papa Bouba Diop. “