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Senegal Midfielder Papa Diop dies at 42

After a long illness, the former international who represented his country at their first-ever World Cup in 2002 has passed away.

At the age of 42, former Senegal international Papa Bouba Diop passed away after a long illness.

In the opening match of the 2002 World Cup, Diop was part of the Teranga Lions side that shocked reigning world champions France 1-0, scoring the game’s only goal to secure one of the biggest surprises in the history of the tournament.

Ultimately, Senegal reached the quarter-finals of the competition, with Diop going on to score twice in the 3-3 group-stage draw of the West Africans with Uruguay before Turkey finally eliminated them in the final eight.

He was the tournament’s top scorer for the Lions and would finish his international career with 63 caps, 11 goals, and four Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, including when Senegal was defeated in 2002.

Following his arrival from Racing Club de Lens at Fulham in 2004, the midfielder spent the better part of a decade in English football, going on to represent Portsmouth, West Ham United, and Birmingham City before retiring in 2013. He has made 129 Premier League appearances in total.

He was a part of the FA Cup-winning Pompey team of Harry Redknapp who beat Cardiff City 1-0 in the 2008 final, being introduced late on for Pedro Mendes in a match settled by the 37th-minute goal of Nwankwo Kanu.

During his early career with Grasshoppers, ASC Diaraf graduate Diop was a Swiss champion, having broken into the professional game with Neuchatel Xamax, and then went on to play for Lens, wherein 2002 he was a Ligue 1 runner-up.

He won the Greek Cup during a short spell with AEK Athens after leaving Portsmouth.

During his career, Diop, who stood at 6’5 ‘, was nicknamed’ The Wardrobe ‘because of his height, aerial superiority, and intimidating midfield presence, and was once called among his trickiest opponents by ex-Manchester United and England star Paul Scholes.

“On Sunday night, Fulham tweeted: “We are saddened to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop, aged 42, has passed away. Well, rest well, Closet.

During his time in Switzerland, he initially featured as a forward, but later in his career, he was turned into a midfielder and sometimes even featured in the heart of the defense.

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