clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Republic trialist Diop: ‘My goal made Senegal famous’

Papa Bouba Diop on trial for Sac Republic FC

Papa Bouba Diop, center, hangs out at the Sacramento Republic FC training facility in Davis.
Papa Bouba Diop, center, hangs out at the Sacramento Republic FC training facility in Davis.
Sacramento Republic FC

"And Bouba Diop is there…oh and Bouba Diop is there! And Senegal have scored the first goal of the 2002 World Cup. After half an hour’s play, Papa Bouba Diop! Just look at this celebration!"

- John Motson’s BBC call of Papa Bouba Diop’s famous winner against France in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

The goal itself wasn't pretty.

On a counterattack, a cross from the spry El Hadji Diouf deflected off the aging Emmanuel Petit into the right hand of the erratic goalkeeper Fabien Barthez and fell to Papa Bouba Diop, a hulking 6-foot-5 midfielder.

Diop tapped the ball into the empty net, got up, took his shirt off, threw it on the ground, and motioned for his teammates to celebrate around his jersey with him.

Their celebration and that goal call has stuck with me for the last 12 years, so when I heard that Papa Bouba Diop was one of the 34 players invited to USL Pro expansion side Sacramento Republic FC’s invite-only player combine, I knew I had to ask him about it.

"When you score against France, people remember," Diop told me in our truncated interview Thursday. "My goal made Senegal famous."

That goal, as well as a solid performance in Senegal’s quarterfinal run earned him a move to Ligue 1’s Lens before more solid play saw him make 129 appearances in the English Premier League for Fulham and Portsmouth.

He went on to make 63 international appearances while scoring 11 goals.

Now 35, Diop has been out of contract for the last year after making two appearances for Championship side BirminghamCity in the 2012-13 season.

I only had time to ask Diop three questions. One was, "Out of all the places in the world, why Sacramento?"

"I just want to finish my career here," Diop responded. "I want to come here to help."

Note: According to Republic FC Vice President of Marketing and Communication Erika Bjork, Sacramento is on the verge of announcing three more signings within the next week.