Senegal’s first world cup goal scorer, Papa Bouba Diop, is dead
Papa Bouba Diop, the former Senegal international who scored the West African nation’s first world cup goal, has died after a protracted illness.
Diop, a rugged midfielder who played for Fulham and Portsmouth, passed at aged 42 after a long illness, FIFA has confirmed.
FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop.
Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero. pic.twitter.com/akUJoPxCal
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 29, 2020
Then a 24-year old, the midfielder rose to prominence at the 2002 World Cup, scoring the opening goal of the tournament as Senegal shocked reigning champions France in a famous 1-0 victory.
Diop grew up in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, and moved to Switzerland aged 20 to pursue his football career.
Following the 2002 World Cup, he moved from Swiss club Grasshoppers to French side Lens that summer, and two years later joined Fulham in the Premier League in a £6m transfer.
He spent three years at Craven Cottage before spells at Portsmouth, AEK Athens, West Ham United and Birmingham City.
— Portsmouth FC (@Pompey) November 29, 2020
We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42.
Rest well, Wardrobe 🖤 pic.twitter.com/rvU53Vqkmn
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) November 29, 2020
Diop was a towering presence in midfield for clubs and country, and earned 63 caps for Senegal, scoring 11 goals including that historic strike against France in Seoul.
The former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes once described Diop as one of most difficult opponents.
“We used to play against Portsmouth,” Scholes said on BBC radio. “Do you remember Papa Bouba Diop? Big, massive. They used to call him The Wardrobe! You get involved physically with him and you’re wasting your time.
“I always found him awkward to play against. He wasn’t a Patrick Vieira, of course he wasn’t, but he still had talent. As far as players being awkward to play against, I always found him a nuisance.”