Bouba Diop had a long playing career for his country and etched his name in gold when he scored the winner against reigning champions France in their first ever World Cup game in 2002. Senegal went on to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament.
World football governing body, FIFA, confirmed the death of the midfielder, with a statement which in part reads: “FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop. Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero.”
The President of Senegal, Macky Sall, also paid tribute to the late player on Twitter, saying: “The death of Pape Bouba Diop is a great loss for Senegal.
“I pay tribute to a good footballer, respected by all for his courtesy and his talent, proudly reminding us of the Lions saga in 2002. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family and to the football world.”
Current Senegalese international and Liverpool FC star man, Sadio Mane, on his Instagram wrote: “Pape Bouba, it was with a broken heart that we learned of your (death). Know that you will forever remain in our hearts even if you left without saying goodbye to us.”
Diop had a long career in England where he was affectionately known as the ‘Wardrobe’ due to his stature – after joining Fulham from French club Lens in 2004.
Fulham’s official Twitter account posted: “We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42. Rest well, Wardrobe.”
Diop left Fulham for Portsmouth and was part of the club’s 2008 FA Cup-winning side. Harry Redknapp who was the manager at the time, stated to Sky Sports News that Diop was an “absolutely fantastic character”.
He added: “(I) never heard a bad word for anybody out of his mouth. Everyone just loved him.”
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