Liverpool star Sadio Mane was one of many to pay tribute to Papa Bouba Diop following his death at the age of 42.
He is recalled not just for scoring the opening goal of the 2002 World Cup when Senegal shocked France, but also for scoring the first of the two goals wit which Senegal eliminated Nigeria in the semi finals of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali.
The ex-Senegal midfielder, who played for Fulham and Portsmouth where he won the FA Cup, lost his long battle with illness.
Diop, who was nicknamed ‘The Wardrobe’ because of his 6ft 5ins size, also had spells in England with Birmingham and West Ham.
He joined Fulham in 2004 and spent three years in west London, before signing for Portsmouth.
Diop helped Pompey win an FA Cup under the management of Harry Redknapp in 2008.
He was also part of one of the biggest World Cup shocks when he scored the only goal in a 1-0 group stage win over reigning champions France in 2002.
“Pape Bouba, it was with a broken heart that we learned of your passing,” Mané wrote undeneath a picture of Diop celebrating his World Cup goal. “Know that you will remain in our hearts forever even if you left without saying goodbye to us. RIP.”
Fulham, Birmingham, Portsmouth and West Ham also expressed their sadness at the news.
Fulham said: “We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42. Rest well, Wardrobe.
Meanwhile, Birmingham wrote: “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.”
Portsmouth said: “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.”
Speaking to Sky Sports, Harry Redknapp recalled a well liked man.
“I never heard a bad word for anybody out of his mouth. Everyone just loved him.
“I looked like signing him at Portsmouth and then I lost him, he ended up going to Fulham.
“I went to watch him at Fulham a few times and he was such a good player, strong and powerful and could pass it, and he played in that Senegal team that beat France at the World Cup.
“Then eventually I got him to Portsmouth and he was so influential in what we achieved. He was a top player and a top person, always smiling, always laughing. He was just lovely to have around and I’m really upset to hear this news. He really was a special character.”
West Ham added: “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.”