The world has yet to recover from the unexpected demise of Diego Maradona when death struck again, this time on the African continent where Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop passed away on November 29 after a long battle with illness.
He went ahead to play for Vevey, Neuchâtel Xamax, Grasshoppers, Lens, Fulham, Portsmouth, AEK Athens, West Ham United and Birmingham City.
However, Diop’s most defining moment was in 2002 World Cup when he scored the only goal that knocked out then defending Champions France early in the tournament and in which Senegal reached the quarterfinals in their first ever World Cup.
Diop also helped Portsmouth win the 2008 FA Cup.
Nicknamed “The Wardrobe” to describe his six-foot-five frame, Diop was often described as an aggressive defensive midfielder as well as a center-back.
His playing style and ability which was often compared to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, would leave even the best striker reeling.
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes best describes Teranga Lions’ star as a “big”, “massive”, and one of the most “awkward” players whom “you get involved physically with him and you’re wasting your time”.
Senegal didn’t just lose a legend. They lost an African giant whose line goal brought champions to their knees and knocked them out of the game. He was the hero who showed the world the grit the West Africans were made of and paved the way for other talents, one of whom is the ace Liverpool star, Sadio Mané.
For the rest of the world, he will forever be our World Cup hero.