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Papa Bouba Diop (1978 - 2020)

'The Wardrobe'

BOUBA DIOP Papa Diop action 11_10_01 Crystal Palace v 11_10_01 Crystal Palace v. WHU TS

West Ham United were relegated at the end of the 2010-11 campaign having won only seven Premier League games, under Avram Grant, from 37 played in a season where they won more cup games than league fixtures.


The priority ahead of the new campaign was to shore up a leaky defence and add some bulk to the middle of the pitch. A free transfer from Greek side AEK Athens, the smartly dressed Papa Bouba Diop slotted alongside fellow Senegal teammate Abdoulaye Faye in a new look Hammers side.


Nicknamed The Wardrobe', not because of his smart attire, but due to his physical presence and uncompromising style, at six foot five inches the 63 capped Senegal international helped new manager Sam Allardyce's West Ham reach the end of season play-offs and ultimately their Premier League status.


Diop has played professionally in his homeland, Switzerland, France, England and Greece. The seasoned professional came to the world's attention at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.


The midfielder spent the best part of a decade in English football following his arrival at Fulham from Racing Club de Lens in 2004, going on to represent Portsmouth, West Ham United and Birmingham City before retiring in 2013.


He was a member of Harry Redknapp’s FA Cup-winning Portsmouth team who defeated Cardiff City 1-0 in the 2008 final.


Born: Dakar, Senegal January 28, 1978 Papa Bouba Diop died Paris, France November 29, 2020 aged 42.

Bouba Diop was born in Rufisque, Dakar and began his football career with junior team Ndeffann Saltigue before joining ASC Diaraf of the Senegal Premier League in 1996. He left Senegal for Switzerland, where he spent a few months with third-tier club Vevey before being snapped up by Swiss Super League club Neuchatel Xamax at the age of 22 in the 2000 close season.


In December that same year, he joined fellow top-flight club Grasshoppers, whom he helped to the championship title in his first half-season and made his first appearance in UEFA competitions the next. French side RC Lens splash out more than £lm to take him to the Stade Felix Bollaert in summer 2002. Played more than 70 league matches for Les Sang et Or and scored twice in ten UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup appearances.

Early career

Papa got his first call up to the Senegal national squad in 1999, at the age of 21 and has been an important member of the Senegal squad for a decade, making 63 senior appearances and scoring eleven goals. Scored the winner in Senegal's shock 1-0 victory over holders France in Seoul and twice more in a 3-3 draw with Uruguay in Suwon as Senegal reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. Has also appeared in three CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, helping Les Lions de la Teranga to fourth place in 2006.

Senegal International

The Whites, Pompey and Kitrinómavri (Yellow-Blacks)

The midfielder joined Fulham for £6m in July 2004 and made an immediate impression on the Premier League with his athleticism, tough tackling and long-range shooting. He quickly became a popular figure among the Craven Cottage faithful, scoring nine goals in 84 appearances over three seasons in west London.


Moved on to Portsmouth for £3.5m in summer 2007, helping the Harry Redknapp's Pompey to lift the FA Cup in 2008 and appearing four times in the UEFA Europa League. Joined Greek side AEK Athens in July 2010, winning the Greek Cup during his sole season with the club.

Senegalese Fulham Portsmouth AEK_Athens

West Ham United

On 30 August 2011, West Ham announced the signing of Diop on a one-year contract with an option to extend for a further 12 months.


The imposing Diop became Sam Allardyce's ninth summer signing after completing a successful trial period at Chadwell Heath. Although keen to secure his services, the Hammers then had to wait until he was granted a work permit at a London hearing. It was not until October before the manager could utilise his forceful potential in his quest for Premier League status.

Despite his positive start, Diop struggled to break into the starting Xl and was restricted to just 16 appearances. For the majority of the season the Hammers looked on course for automatic promotion, and even briefly topped the division on March 1, but eventually finished third, after being beaten to automatic promotion by Southampton on the final day of the season, despite a 2–1 win against Hull City.


Failure to win a league game in March saw West Ham overtaken by Reading, who defeated the Hammers 4–2 in a key game at Upton Park, and Southampton. and despite a late rally the team had to settle for a play-off place. West Ham's 13 away wins constituted a club record for any league season. They also recorded the fewest defeats (8) of any team in the Championship this season and had the second best goal difference, but 14 draws saw the club miss out on automatic promotion.


West Ham faced Cardiff City in the semi-finals of the play-offs, with the Hammers comfortably beating the Bluebirds 5–0 on aggregate. West Ham then sealed their promotion back to the Premier League on 19 May 2012, beating Blackpool 2–1 at Wembley with goals from Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Tê.


On June 30, 2012, Diop was released by West Ham on expiry of his contract.

Papa made his West Ham United Chapionship debut on October 1, 2011 in a 2–2 draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. He scored his first and only goal for the Hammers, against Barnsley on December 17, 2011. His goal proved to be the winner in a 1–0 win.

Papa Bouba Diop


Dakar, Senegal




January 28, 1978




AEK Athens (Greece)




August 30, 2011




16   npower Championship  




1     npower Championship


Tributes Doug Wragg Dave Dunmore

'theyflysohigh' would like to pass on our condolences to Papa’s family and friends at this sad time.

BOUBA DIOP Papa small

In October 2012, he agreed terms to join Birmingham City on a short-term contract, subject to successful application for a working visa, and the deal was completed on 19 October. He then signed for a further month, and finally made his Birmingham debut as a second-half substitute in a 1–1 draw away to Blackpool on 27 November and was booked within minutes of entering the game.


With former Hammers' Hayden Mullins suspended and Jonathan Spector injured for the visit of Crystal Palace on December 15, Diop made his first start for Birmingham. He scored the equalising goal, a powerful header from a corner, as the Blues' came back from 2–0 down to draw, and was rewarded with another month's contract. He injured a hamstring soon afterwards, and despite his imminent return to fitness, the club's financial difficulties meant they could not offer him a further contract extension. He left the club in January 2013.

Birmingham City


Debut Against the Glaziers

Promotion Hopefuls’

Papa celebrates his goal against Barnsley

s-l1600 (12) s-l500 (2) download (2) s-l500 (1) 21 DIOP Papa Bouba signed Diop tribute

Daily Telegraph tribute