Tuesday Dec 01, 2020. 16:00
Legendary Senegalese midfielder Papa Bouba Diop has been lauded as a ‘special talent’ by his former manager Harry Redknapp.
Diop sadly died in France on 29 November 2020 at the age of 42, following a long illness and he spent three seasons with English side Portsmouth FC where he worked with Redknapp during his playing days.
The towering player played a key role in helping Portsmouth lift the FA Cup in 2008 under the guidance of the veteran English tactician.
“I was very lucky to have managed such a fantastic boy – he was special. He did a great job for me at Portsmouth and I think the Portsmouth fans loved him,” Redknapp told BBC Sport.
“They called him the Wardrobe, he was so big you couldn’t move him. He was a big colossus – you wouldn’t want to play against him.
“I was talking to my son Jamie [Redknapp, former Liverpool and England midfielder] and he said what a nightmare he was to play against.”
A defensive midfielder, who could also play as a central defender, Diop played 72 matches for former Premier League side Portsmouth.
“He was so powerful – a giant of a man. He would run all over you, was great in the air and he could pass. He was just a special talent,” he continued.
“I was distraught when I heard the big man had passed away, I just couldn’t believe it. He had been such a healthy, fit, strong guy.”
Diop also played for Fulham in the Premier League and he finished his stint with the London club having played 84 matches for the side, scoring nine goals.
“What an athlete – a giant of a man and to lose him at such an early age is so sad. He was always happy – he never a bad word and would always laugh at the corniest of jokes,” he added.
“He looked aggressive on the pitch because he was so big but he always had a smile on his face. I never saw him have a crossword or be miserable – he was always upbeat.”
Diop played 63 times for Senegal scoring 11 goals including three against France and Uruguay (brace) at the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals.