Former Premier League star Papa Bouba Diop dies aged 42

29 November 2020, 18:03 | Updated: 29 November 2020, 18:42

Former Portsmouth star Papa Bouba Diop has passed away aged 42
Former Portsmouth star Papa Bouba Diop has passed away aged 42. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Former Premier League midfielder and Senegal World Cup hero Papa Bouba Diop has died aged 42.

The ex-Fulham, Portsmouth and West Ham footballer, who scored one of his nation's most famous goals when beating France 1-0 in the 2002 World Cup, had reportedly long been battling with an illness.

He first arrived in the Premier League in 2004 when he joined west-London based Fulham from French side Lens.

Diop - who won 63 caps for Senegal, scoring 11 goals - enjoyed spells with Portsmouth and AEK Athens before returning to the English top-flight in 2011 with West Ham United.

At Portsmouth, he won the 2008 FA Cup final, beating Cardiff City 1-0 at Wembley, while his other honours included a Greek Cup win with AEK Athens in 2011 and the Swiss Super League championship with Grasshopper Club Zürich in 2001.

His former clubs were quick to pay tribute to the midfielder who could also play in central defence.

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West Ham said on Twitter: "Everyone at West Ham United is saddened to learn of the passing of Papa Bouba Diop at just 42.

"A part of our 2011/12 promotion-winning squad, he'll always be a part of our Club.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this time. Rest in peace, Papa."

Fulham wrote: "We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42.

"Rest well, Wardrobe."

Birmingham City Football Club said: "We are devastated to learn of the passing of former player Papa Bouba Diop at the age of 42.

"Our thoughts are with Papa’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time."

Gary Lineker said it was "terribly sad" to hear the footballer had been "taken so young".

Sky pundit Chris Kamara said: "Devastated to have just read the news that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away. Didn’t know he’d been ill and, at 42 years of age, he’s been taken too young.

"We used to have a good chuckle together about me calling him “The Man Mountain Himself”. RIP Papa."

The official page of the Fifa World Cup also posted a tribute to the Senegalese star.

"FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop.

"Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero."

Born in Rufisque, Dakar, Senegal's capital city, the footballer began his career with junior team Ndeffann Saltigue before joining ASC Diaraf of the Senegal Premier League in 1996.

Diop played his final club matches for Birmingham in the 2012/13 season while his international career spanned between 2001 and 2008.