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Koulibaly leads touching tributes to Papa Bouba Diop two years after his tragic death

‘He was everything to Senegalese football’: Kalidou Koulibaly leads touching tributes to Papa Bouba Diop two years after his tragic death… with fans painting 19 on their back and the Chelsea defender including number on his captain’s armband

  • Fans and players pay tribute to Papa Bouba Diop ahead of match with Ecuador 
  • The national icon died two years ago today following a long battle with illness 
  • Supporters painted their body with Diop’s number and wore shirts with his name
  • Captain Kalidou Koulibaly wore the number 19 on is armband during the match
  • Senegal qualified for the knockout stage with a 2-1 and could meet England 

Senegal’s players and fans paid a moving tribute to national star Papa Bouba Diop ahead of their victory over Ecuador that saw them qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup. 

The midfielder tragically passed away two years ago to the day, aged just 42, following a long illness and ahead of the crucial Group A clash, fans honoured their national hero.

A group of seven supporters painted their bodies, arms and faces as part of a tribute, and dressed in the country’s yellow, green and red colours.

Papa Bouba Diop played 62 times for Senegal but sadly passed away after illness in 2020

A group of fans painted their bodies with Diop's number 19 in tribute to their national hero

A group of fans painted their bodies with Diop’s number 19 in tribute to their national hero 

Shirts bearing the name of Bouba Diop could be seen throughout the crowd during the game

Shirts bearing the name of Bouba Diop could be seen throughout the crowd during the game 

On the front of their torsos, each fan had a letter to spell out ‘Senegal’, while on their backs was the number 19 painted in honour of Papa Bouba Diop’s squad number for his country. 

There were also fans with Diop shirts and banners seen in the crowd, with one reading ‘True lion never dies’ alongside an image of the midfielder. 

The African side secured their passage to the last six thanks to goals from Ismaila Sarr and skipper Kalidou Koulibaly, and it could set up a meeting with England in the next round.

Banners were held in the crowd in tribute to the midfielder who dies two years ago to the day

Banners were held in the crowd in tribute to the midfielder who dies two years ago to the day 

Skipper Kalidou Koulibaly wore the number 19 on his captain's armband against Ecuador

Skipper Kalidou Koulibaly wore the number 19 on his captain’s armband against Ecuador 

Chelsea defender Koulibaly paid his own tribute to midfielder Diop, by having the number 19 on his armband, and after the game dedicated the win to him.

He told beIN Sports: ‘It was a special day for Senegalese. Our first goal was for Papa Bouba Diop. Today is the anniversary of his death. We really wanted to do something big for him today. 

He was our childhood, he was everything to Senegalese football. He was a big loss for us. Today is for him. It’s a great honour, I have his number on my armband.’

Diop nets the famous winner against France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup

Diop nets the famous winner against France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup 

Nicknamed 'the wardrobe' Diop (left) played for a number of Premier League sides and won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008

Nicknamed ‘the wardrobe’ Diop (left) played for a number of Premier League sides and won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008 

Diop earned 63 caps for the Lions of Teranga, scoring 11 goals. The most famous of which came in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup, when he netted the winner against reigning world champions France in the tournament’s opener. 

The 6ft 5ins star was nicknamed ‘the wardrobe’ due to his industrious style of play and enjoyed a successful stint in the Premier League. 

He represented West Ham, Fulham, Birmingham and was part of the Portsmouth side that won the FA Cup in 2008.  

The Senegal players celebrate beating Ecuador and booking their place into the last sixteen

The Senegal players celebrate beating Ecuador and booking their place into the last sixteen 

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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