Former Senegal star Papa Bouba Diop has died from an undisclosed ailment multiple media reports say.
According to reports, the 42-year-old had been suffering from a long-time illness and passed away on Sunday.
His former club, RC Lens, paid tribute writing: “It is with great sadness that Racing Club de Lens has just learned of the disappearance of its former player Papa Bouba Diop , at the age of 42.
“We offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones.”
Fulham, who he joined after leaving Lens and where he earned the nickname “The Wardrobe” wrote: “We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42.
“Rest well, Wardrobe.”
Bouba Diop became a national hero when he scored the goal which saw Senegal beat defending champions France 1-0 in their opening World Cup game in 2002.
After three seasons at Craven Cottage, he joined Portsmouth in 2007 and after a stint with AEK Athens returned to the top flight by joining West Ham in 2011.
After one season with the Hammers he joined Birmingham City before being released in January 2013.
Diop won 63 caps for Senegal, scoring 11 goals including his historic World Cup strike.
FIFA paid tribute to Bouba Diop on Sunday, writing on Twitter: “FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop.
Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero.”
The mayor of Mermoz Sacré-Cœur, Barthélémy Dias, also paid tribute to Bouba Diop : “Thank you GAINDÉ for making us dream so much.
“Your name will forever be engraved in the Football Hall of Fame alongside great legends.May God welcome you in his Paradise.”
England legend Gary Lineker paid tribute stating on social media: “How terribly sad. Taken so young. RIP Papa Bouba Diop.”