Senegal World Cup hero dies aged 42, FIFA, Premier League, others pay tributes

November 29th, 2020 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Former Senegal international and Premier League star Papa Bouba Diop has passed away at the age of 42.

According to a number of reports, the former Fulham and Portsmouth star had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or motor neurone disease.

Diop became a national hero when he scored the goal which saw Senegal beat France 1-0 in their opening World Cup game in 2002.

The midfielder first arrived in English football when he joined Fulham from Lens in 2004.

Rufisque-born Diop, who stood at 6 foot 5, was nicknamed “The Wardrobe” at Craven Cottage due to his imposing presence in the midfield, and was named by Manchester United legend Paul Scholes as his toughest opponent earlier this year.

Diop won 63 caps for Senegal, scoring 11 goals including his historic World Cup strike.

His former club, RC Lens, paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “It is with great sadness that Racing Club de Lens has just learned of the disappearance of its former player Papa Bouba Diop , at the age of 42.

“We offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones.”

So too did world governing body FIFA, who declared: “FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop.

“Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero.”

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