The Senegalese midfielder is said to have died after a long illness.Portsmouth and Fulham cult hero Papa Bouba Diop – nicknamed ‘The Wardrobe’ because of his size – has died aged 42Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Fulham confirmed the news on social media, writing: “We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42.
“Rest well, Wardrobe.”
Man mountain Diop, who stood at an imposing 6ft 5in, was a cult hero with both the Cottagers and Portsmouth – earning the nickname ‘The Wardrobe’ because of his size.
Diop was a crucial part of Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth side that famously won the FA Cup in 2008.
He also played in England for West Ham – where he helped the club to promotion via the play-offs in 2012 – and Birmingham City.
Diop was also part of the Senegal side that shocked world champions France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup.
He scored the only goal in the 1-0 win, which still ranks as one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.
He won 63 international caps and retired from the game in 2013.
Former team-mates Jamie O’Hara and Liam Rosenior lead tributes to Diop.
O’Hara, who played at Portsmouth with the midfielder, wrote: “Horrible news today of my former team-mate Papa Bouba Diop, was a privilege to share a dressing room with him and such a nice man off the field, RIP big man.”
And Rosenior, who played at Fulham, added: “Papa Bouba Diop. Always smiling. What a man. May his beautiful smile bless us from heaven.
“I’m heartbroken. Rest in Peace my friend.”
Birmingham City, for whom Diop played two games in 2012-13, wrote on Twitter: “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 also paid tribute: “How terribly sad. Taken so young. RIP Papa Bouba Diop.”
Surprisingly, Manchester United great Paul Scholes named The Wardrobe as one of his toughest ever opponents.
He told the Savage Social earlier this year: “There’s one more that people won’t think of. We used to play against Portsmouth.
“Do you remember Papa Bouba Diop? Big, massive. They used to call him The Wardrobe!
“You get involved physically with him and you’re wasting your time.
“I always found him awkward to play against. He wasn’t a Vieira, of course he wasn’t, but he still had talent.”