'We are devastated': Football world rocked by fresh tragedy

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured here, Senegal football legend Papa Bouba Diop.
The football world has been saddened by news of Papa Bouba Diop's tragic death. Pic: Portsmouth FC.

Tributes have been pouring in on social media after news of the tragic death of Papa Bouba Diop.

The former Senegal midfielder - a cult figure after his country's remarkable 2002 World Cup campaign - died at the age of 42 after a battle with illness.

Diop is remembered fondly by English football fans after his stint in the Premier League, with his most productive spell culminating in a famous 2008 FA Cup triumph with Portsmouth.

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Diop, who arrived in England in 2004 when he joined Fulham from Lens and went on to play for Portsmouth and briefly West Ham and Birmingham, had been suffering with a long-term illness, according to reports in his homeland.

It's understood Diopp had been suffering from a type of motor neurone disease known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Fulham tweeted early on Sunday evening: "We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42. Rest well, Wardrobe."

Portsmouth posted: "We're devastated to hear reports that FA Cup winner Papa Bouba Diop has passed away after a long illness, aged just 42. Rest in peace, The Wardrobe."

Lens tweeted: "It is with great sadness that the Racing Club of Lens has just learned of the passing of its former player Papa Bouba #Diop, at the age of 42. We extend our deepest condolences to his loved ones."

Tributes to Diop flood social media

The 1.95m player, nicknamed 'The Wardrobe', scored the opening goal at the 2002 World Cup finals when Senegal upset reigning champions France 1-0.

The goal made him Diop a global hero and sparked an incredible run from Senegal that saw the World Cup debutant's go all the way to the quarter-finals pf the tournament in Japan and South Korea.

Diop is seen here celebrating his famous goal against France at the 2002 World Cup.
Diop will forever be remembered for his winning goal against holders France at the 2002 World Cup. Pic: Getty

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

He made more than 80 appearances in all competitions for Fulham, scoring nine goals, and in 2007 moved to Pompey, for whom he featured over 50 times.

Diop, whose former clubs also included Swiss sides Neuchatel Xamax and Grasshoppers and Greek club AEK Athens, won 63 caps for his country, scoring 11 goals.

His death has left the footballing world deeply saddened, with many fans remembering that famous World Cup goal against France and the legacy it left on the sport.

with AAP

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