Papa Bouba Diop
|Full name||Pape Bouba Diop|
|Date of birth||28 January 1978|
|Place of birth||Dakar, Senegal|
|Height||1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive midfielder / Centre back|
|2011–2012||West Ham United||16||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
His preferred position was defensive midfield but could also play as a centre back, where he previously played at Lens. His nickname is "The Wardrobe", given to him by Fulham fans, due to his height and large frame. Diop is well known for his strength and aggression, long-range shots, solid style of play and his leadership. His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to Patrick Vieira.
Diop's second of a total of 11 international goals for Senegal launched his national team onto a global stage. The 1–0 defeat of then-world champions France was the opening match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and Senegal's first ever match at the FIFA World Cup.
Diop was born in Rufisque, Dakar. He 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 signing as a professional for Ligue Nationale A club Neuchâtel Xamax 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. He moved to France in January 2002 to join Lens of Ligue 1 on a five-and-a-half-year contract.
After his impressive performances for Lens, Papa Boupa Diop signed with Premier League team Fulham for £6 million, signing a four-year deal in July 2004. Diop made his debut against Manchester City on 14 August 2004, playing the full 90 minutes. Diop scored his first goal for Fulham against Chelsea, scoring Fulham's only goal in a 4–1 home defeat. In his first season at Fulham, Diop made such an impressive display for the club that he was named Fulham's Opta player of the season award for 2004/05.
Former Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez said that Diop had all the attributes to become one of the best midfielders in the Premiership. He said, "There's no reason why Bouba can't get himself up to being one of the best centre midfield players in the Premiership and that's where I see his long-term position. I've seen Diop play over the years and he has all the attributes to be a top-class midfielder".
For his performances during the 2005–06 season, Diop was nominated for the Fulham "Player of the Year" award. Diop would then signed a new deal that will keep him until 2009. Diop then said that he made a right decision to sign a contract with Fulham. Diop became a fans' favourite. In 2005, he was appointed as captain by Coleman.
An injury due to hamstring, foot, and back problems resulted in him missing part of the 2006–07 season and losing the captaincy to Danny Murphy. In January 2007 Wigan made a £5 million bid for the midfielder, but Diop decided against the move and stayed with Fulham, helping them to avoid relegation.
After three years at Craven Cottage Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez allowed Diop to move on and he transferred to Portsmouth on transfer deadline day. Diop finished his Fulham career playing 84 matches, scoring nine goals.
Diop signed a five-year deal with Portsmouth for a fee of £3.5 million. He made his debut against Liverpool on 15 September 2007 in a 0–0 draw. Diop was a key player in Portsmouth's victorious 2008 FA Cup campaign, playing a solid, defensive game and making some crucial tackles against Cardiff City.
Following Portsmouth's relegation, Diop was considered likely to be released. Portsmouth's administrator, Andrew Andronikou, stated that Diop would only be leaving for a fee of £1 million, but Portsmouth eventually agreed to a €300,000 offer from AEK Athens in July 2010. He played 72 games for Portsmouth without scoring.
After signing with AEK, Diop stated, "I am very pleased signing for AEK, my expectations are to win trophies, AEK is a huge club who plays in Europe consistently. I was very surprised with the way the AEK fans greeted me at the Venizelos airport and I hope I can do my best for the club"
Diop made his debut for AEK Athens against Dundee United on 19 August 2010. He did not play the full 90 minutes as he was not fully fit recovering from his injuries. Diop scored his first Super League goal against PAOK F.C., the match finished 4–0 to AEK. Bouba Diop finished the season only playing 19 games due to constant injuries. On 30 April 2011 Diop won the Greek Cup with AEK in a 0–3 win against Atromitos and was a key player in the victory playing a very solid game. Diop also scored two goals against PAOK in the Superleague Greece play-off's giving AEK the 3–0 lead. Diop was also awarded the MVP award.
West Ham United
On 30 August 2011, West Ham announced the signing of Diop on a one-year deal. He joined on a free transfer after leaving AEK Athens. The deal included an option to sign for a further year. He made his debut for West Ham on 1 October 2011 in a 2–2 away draw with Crystal Palace. He scored his first and only goal for West Ham, against Barnsley on 17 December 2011. His goal proved to be the winner in a 1–0 win. On 30 June 2012, Diop was released by West Ham on expiry of his contract.
In October 2012, he agreed terms to join former teammate Lee Clark's 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. He was booked within minutes of entering the game. With Hayden Mullins suspended and Jonathan Spector injured for the visit of Crystal Palace on 15 December, Diop made his first start for Birmingham, alongside League debutant Callum Reilly in central midfield. He scored the equalising goal, a powerful header from Rob Hall's corner, as Birmingham 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.
Bouba Diop got his first call up to the Senegal national squad in 1999, at the age of 21, while playing for Neuchâtel Xamax in the Swiss Super League. He is perhaps best known for scoring the first goal of 2002 FIFA World Cup against France, which resulted in the 1–0 defeat of the then reigning World champions and ultimately, their early elimination from the tournament, in which Senegal reached the quarter-finals. He ended as his team's best scorer of the tournament with three goals, having also scored twice against Uruguay. Diop has played 63 times for Senegal scoring 11 goals.
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Neuchâtel Xamax||2000–01||Ligue Nationale A||19||4||–||19||4|
|Grasshopper||2000–01||Ligue Nationale A||11||1||–||11||1|
|2001–02||Ligue Nationale A||18||4||7[a]||0||25||4|
|AEK Athens||2010–11||Superleague Greece||19||1||6||0||–||5[e]||2||7[f]||1||37||4|
|West Ham United||2011–12||Championship||16||1||0||0||0||0||–||–||16||1|
- Scores and results list Senegal's goal tally first.
- Grasshopper Club Zürich
- AEK Athens
- West Ham United
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