Senegal 2002 World Cup hero Papa Diop dies aged 42

Reuters , Sunday 29 Nov 2020

Media reports claim Diop had died following a long illness

Papa Bouba Diop
Senegal’s Papa Bouba Diop (C) celebrates his goal as he runs away from France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez (C Rear) while Youri Djorkaeff (L), Frank Leboeuf (L Rear), and Emmanuel Petit (R) react at World Cup Finals in Seoul May 31, 2002 (Reuters)

Former Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba Diop, who scored the first goal of the 2002 World Cup against reigning champions France, has died aged 42, soccer's governing body FIFA said on Sunday.

"FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop. Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero," FIFA said in a statement on Twitter.

The world ruling body did not provide details but multiple media reports said Diop had died following a long illness.

Diop's close-range goal after 30 minutes against France in the opening game of the 2002 finals sealed a 1-0 win for the World Cup debutants in one of the upsets of the tournament. France went out in the group stage without scoring.

Diop netted two more goals in Senegal's 3-3 draw with Uruguay in the group stage to become their top scorer at the 2002 finals as they went on to reach the quarter-finals.

The versatile defensive midfielder made 63 appearances for his country scoring 11 goals.

Diop started his club career at Senegalese side ASC Diaraf before spells in Switzerland at Vevey, Neuchatel Xamax and Grasshoppers before joining French side Lens in 2002.

A move to Premier League Fulham followed and he spent three years at the west London club before a transfer to Portsmouth, where he was part of the team that won the 2007-08 FA Cup.

He also had short stints at West Ham United and Birmingham City before retiring from playing seven years ago.

Fulham and Portsmouth paid tribute on Twitter to the player nicknamed 'The Wardrobe'.

Former Portsmouth midfielder Chris Kamara said that he was devastated to read the news.

"Didn't know he'd been ill... he's been taken too young," Kamara tweeted. "We used to have a good chuckle together about me calling him 'The Man Mountain Himself' RIP Papa." 

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