Football: Remembering Papa Bouba Diop
24 February 2022
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SENEGAL: Papa Bouba Diop (January 28, 1978 – November 29, 2020) was a Senegalese football hero. His preferred position was defensive midfield but he could also play as a centre back, where he previously played at Lens. Diop was considered a strong and aggressive player. His playing style and ability drew comparisons to Patrick Vieira.

Diop spent much of his career in England. He played for Fulham and Portsmouth in the Premier League and won the FA Cup with the latter club in 2008. He also played top-flight football in Switzerland for Neuchâtel Xamax and Grasshopper, in France for Lens and in Greece for AEK Athens.

Diop’s second of a total of 11 international goals for Senegal came in a 1–0 victory over then-world champions France in the opening match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, in Senegal’s first match at the FIFA World Cup. He also played at four Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, finishing as runners-up in 2002.

Diop’s body was flown back on December 4, from Lens in northern France, where he died after a long illness. He was buried at a private ceremony at his birthplace near Dakar on December 5, 2020.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall led tributes to him, saying the nation’s loss was “immense”.

Several of his former teammates, some overcome with emotion, attended the ceremony.
They wore the shirts of the national team bearing his name, and his number, 19.

Striker El Hadji Diouf said Diop had been a model team-mate, while Henri Camara said he had lost his “twin brother”.

President Sall said that Diop’s goal against France meant Senegal would go down in the annals of global football.
After beating France, Senegal reached the quarter-finals. No African team has gone further.

President Macky Sall announced that a museum at a 50,000-seater stadium being built outside the capital, Dakar, would be named after Diop, who was also given a posthumous national award, the Knight of the National Order of Merit.

The highlight of his club career was winning the 2008 FA Cup with Portsmouth. His Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp told the BBC he was “very lucky to have managed such a fantastic boy – he was special”.

“They called him the Wardrobe, he was so big you couldn’t move him,” he said.

Diop died aged 42.

Credit: BBC & Wikipedia