Papa Bouba Diop, the former Senegal midfielder who scored the first goal of the 2002 World Cup against France, has died at the age of 42.
World football’s governing body posted a tribute to Diop on Twitter. “Fifa is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop,” Sunday’s statement read. “Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero.”
Diop began his European career in Switzerland, winning the title with Grasshoppers before moving to the French club Lens in January 2002. His most famous moment came four months later in the World Cup’s opening match, when his goal earned Senegal a shock win over defending champions France in Seoul.
The midfielder scored twice more in Senegal’s run to the World Cup quarter-finals, before joining Fulham for £6m in 2004. After three Premier League seasons at Craven Cottage, he moved to Portsmouth in August 2007, going on to win the FA Cup later that season and appearing at Wembley as a substitute in the final.
We’re devastated to hear reports that FA Cup winner Papa Bouba Diop has passed away after a long illness, aged just 42
A tough central midfielder who earned the nickname “The Wardrobe” during his Premier League career, Diop could also play in central defence. Diop also played for West Ham, Birmingham and AEK Athens and earned 63 Senegal caps, scoring 11 goals. He retired in 2013 and had reportedly been suffering from a long illness.
Liverpool and Senegal forward Sadio Mané posted a tribute to Diop on Instagram. “Pape Bouba, it was with a broken heart that we learned of your passing,” Mané wrote undeneath a picture of Diop celebrating his goal in 2002. “Know that you will remain in our hearts forever even if you left without saying goodbye to us. RIP.”
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who played against Diop’s Portsmouth for Cardiff in the 2008 FA Cup final, said on Sky Sports: “He was a good player, and it’s a sad, sad moment. We all feel for his family, and are thinking about them at this difficult time.”