Former Fulham, Portsmouth and Senegal midfielder Papa Bubba Diop died at the weekend aged just 42.
His untimely death shocked the football community, having become a cultural figure in Premier League fandom in the mid-2000s, while his legacy will live on thanks to the historic goal he scored at the 2002 World Cup. What was the score in the opening game of
Senegal were huge underdogs at the 2002 World Cup / JACQUES DEMARTHON/Getty Images
Rather like most of Senegal’s golden generation, Diop was largely unknown to international audiences before this World Cup in the Far East. Most played at top-flight level in France, but few had international experience prior to 1999.
Senegal began 2002 by reaching the final of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time, while Diop was transferred to Lens from Switzerland’s Grasshoppers, joining a strong French team with fellow internationals El-Hadji Diouf, Ferdinand Couli and Joined Pep Sar.
Facing France, the reigning world and European champions, the first-time qualifiers had a tough start to the entire tournament. But on that day, Diop and Senegal outlasted a star-studded French team, stunned by the pace of the game.
France expected to crush Senegal / Tim de Vallee / Getty Images
Diouf in particular gave the France defense endless nightmares, with one of his crosses leading to Diouf’s famous goal on the half-hour mark.
The man, who later became known as ‘The Wardrobe’ at Fulham and Portsmouth, moved forward from midfield to meet the ball thanks to his huge physical frame. His first effort deflected past Fabian Barthes, but Diop had enough about him to pounce on the rebound.
The celebration is almost as famous as the goal itself, with Diop taking off his shirt and placing it next to the corner flag, with his jubilant teammates dancing around him.
France had no answer and Senegal’s momentum from that opening win, which stunned the world when many expected the holders to collapse, led to draws against Denmark and Uruguay to reach the knockout rounds. It became the fifth African country.
Diop and Senegal reach the 2002 quarter-finals / Stu Forster/Getty Images
Diop himself scored twice more in a 3-3 draw with Uruguay. Overall, he surpassed Ronaldinho and Michael Owen at this World Cup and was equal to Germany talisman Michael Ballack, a remarkable feat for a player usually known for his defensive midfield role. goes
After two more years with Lens, Diop moved to the Premier League in 2004 when Fulham paid around £6m for his services. He scored his first goal in English football in the defeat by Chelsea, but his second goal was almost as memorable as his one against France for different reasons.
Fulham were trailing 1-0 to Manchester United at Craven Cottage when the ball curled into Diop’s path 30 yards from goal. Didn’t even take a touch to set himself up and slipped when he took his first attempt, the ball going into the back of the net to save a late draw.
Diop scores a stunning goal against Manchester United in 2004 / Phil Cole/Getty Images
By the end of that debut Premier League season, Diop had six goals to his name. Winning goals in back-to-back games against West Brom and Birmingham in January ultimately helped keep Fulham out of the relegation zone and into the top flight.
By 2007, Portsmouth wanted Diop. He was part of the Pompey side that won the FA Cup in 2008, while he later played briefly for West Ham and Birmingham in the Championship.
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