(APS) – The death this Sunday in France of Pape Bouba Diop, Senegal’s first scorer at the 2020 World Cup, has plunged his former teammates and the whole of the Senegalese people into great distress.
The Senegalese football world had known him to be sick for a long time, but hoped that the native giant of Rufisque would get the better of this disease which had kept him away from his native country for some time.
His last public appearance for most of his compatriots dates back to the gala match organized on the sidelines of the CAF Awards in 2018 between the 2002 generation and an African selection including African Legends, including Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o and Ivorian Didier Drogba.
As usual and despite his size, in an almost full Léopold Sédar Senghor stadium, he slipped into the crowd, without warning, he being silent despite his great feats of arms with the national team.
Perhaps the most glorious of these feats of arms is Senegal’s first goal in World Cup history, which he scored on May 31, 2002 at Seoul World Stadium. A goal that got the better of the Blues, reigning world champions, and paved the way for the Lions for an exceptional tournament.
The native of Rufisque who, after the Dakar Jaraaf, started his professional career in Switzerland (Vevey and Grasshopers), had scored two more goals in this World Cup against Uruguay (3-3). He will remain in the Senegalese, even African, collective memory as the one who struck down France.
Sunday, during the final of the CAN U20 qualifying tournament for West Zone A, which took place under the eyes of his former teammates, El Hadj Diouf and Abdoulaye Diagne Faye to name just these two, the announcement of his death had left many people in disbelief, until the Organizing Committee decided to observe a minute of silence in his memory.
There is like a sign of fate with the other giant of world football Diego Maradona, who died last Wednesday. His death affected his former teammates and his compatriots and first of all the President of the Republic. Macky Sall spoke of “a great loss for Senegal”.
“I pay tribute to a good footballer, respected by all for his courtesy and his talent, proudly reminding us of the Lions saga of 2002. I offer my condolences to his family and to the world of football,” President Sall said on his Twitter account.
The president of the Senegalese Football Federation (FSF), Augustin Senghor paid tribute to the deceased through the same channel. “Senegalese football, Senegal are in mourning, with the death today of the Lion Pope Bouba Diop. Thanks to him and his Generation 2002, he writes, the whole world has discovered Senegal, land of Teranga and football. Dieureudieuf Gaindé, Thank you. Rest in peace. Forever in our hearts. ”
RC Lens, the only club where he played in France before going into exile, paid tribute to him on the same social network. And his former teammates did not miss this moment.
The former star of the Lions El Hadji Ousseynou Diouf, very solicited in the Senegalese media writes about his former teammate: “A lion never dies. He rests. My brother, you will remain forever in my heart, Boubs, like I have always called you. Eternal Paradise Gaindé ”.
Habib Bèye, former international: “You are a giant, you lifted our hearts in 2002 and you will forever be Senegal’s first goalscorer in the World Cup. Rest in peace my brother’ ’.
Alassane Ndour, former international: “We are all touched by this sad news which has just brought us down. Bouba was a fantastic and extraordinary player… We were shocked by this news. He was a partner, a model, a friend , a brother and a patriot. We will thank him and pray for him. ”
The African Golden Ball 2019, Sadio Mané, on the same vein, to remember: “Pope Bouba, it is with a bruised heart that we learned of your disappearance. Know that you will remain forever in our hearts, even if you left without saying goodbye… “.