Papa Bouba Diop, a star of Senegal's famous World Cup campaign in 2002, has died. 

Diop, 42, had reportedly been battling a long-term illness. 

The former midfielder played for four different clubs in England, enjoying spells at Fulham, Portsmouth, West Ham and Birmingham City after impressing in France for Lens. 

In a Twitter statement on Sunday, Lens said: "It is with great sadness that Racing Club de Lens have just learned of the passing of their former player Papa Bouba Diop, at the age of 42. 

"We offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones."

Diop is best remembered for helping Senegal to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup 18 years ago. He scored the only goal of the game as they stunned reigning champions France 1-0 in the opening match in Seoul. 

He scored twice more in a 3-3 draw with Uruguay as Senegal progressed from the group stage before beating Sweden in the last 16. 

Their remarkable run was ended by Turkey, who triumphed 1-0 to progress through to the semi-finals. 

Diop began his career in Senegal with ASC Diaraf before playing in Switzerland for Vevey, Neuchatel Xamax and Grasshoppers, winning the Super League title in 2001. 

He also spent a season in Greece with AEK Athens, where he won the Greek Cup in 2010-11, three years after lifting the FA Cup with Portsmouth. 

Diop, who won 63 senior caps for his country, was also part of the team that reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002, where they lost to Cameroon on penalties.

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has returned to the Premier League club after suffering a thigh injury while on international duty with Senegal.

The Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) confirmed on Thursday that Mendy has left the group following hospital tests on his right thigh.

Mendy will undergo further examinations once he is back in London.

Senegal are preparing for friendly matches against Morocco on Friday and Mauritania next Tuesday.

Mendy only completed a reported £22million (€24.2m) transfer to Chelsea from Ligue 1 outfit Rennes in September.

He played in the 1-1 EFL Cup draw with Tottenham, in which the Blues lost the tie on penalties, before making his Premier League debut in the 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Frank Lampard's Chelsea resume their league campaign against Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 17.

Sadio Mane would have won the Ballon d'Or if he was European or Brazilian, according to the Liverpool forward's Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate.

Mane came fourth in the final standings with 347 votes from the panel of world football journalists, behind winner Lionel Messi (686 votes) of Barcelona, Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk (679) and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo (476).

As well as helping his team to Champions League glory in June, Mane has continually excelled in domestic action for the Premier League's runaway leaders and Kouyate, who was part of the Palace team that lost 2-1 to Mane's Liverpool in November, suggested the 27-year-old was overlooked due to an anti-African bias.

"For me this Ballon d'Or is for Sadio Mane, there is no doubt about that," Kouyate told The Mirror.

"Listen, if Sadio was a Brazilian or a European there would not have been no debate.

"It would have been him for the award straight away and it's not because I play with him at international level, or because I know him; it's just what people who watch football feel.

"Just go back and watch what he did for both club and country and you will see in between the lines that no one has been better than him."

Mane was instrumental in Senegal's run to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring three goals in five appearances before they were beaten 1-0 by Algeria at the last hurdle.

Kouyate added: "We all know that Messi is really good, maybe the greatest player, but last season, come on.

"Maybe it's not just football that they look at because there is no way three people had a better season than him [Mane].

"It's just unbelievable how some people are judged but that is not fair."

 

Mohamed Salah is targeting a third consecutive African Player of the Year trophy after being named on the preliminary list of nominees for the 2019 award.

Salah defended his crown last year after scoring 44 goals for Liverpool and Egypt in 2018 and finishing as the 2017-18 Premier League Golden Boot winner with 32 goals.

The 27-year-old faces competition for this year's honour from Reds team-mate Sadio Mane. The Senegal international was joint top scorer in the Premier League last season with 22 goals alongside Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has also been named on the 30-strong list.

Manchester City and Algeria forward Riyad Mahrez, who won the award in 2016, is also included on the list announced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Aubameyang's Arsenal colleague Nicolas Pepe of the Ivory Coast is another on the list, along with Leicester City's Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Paris Saint-Germain's Idrissa Gueye, who represents Senegal.

Other prominent Europe-based players nominated are Ajax duo Andre Onana and Hakim Ziyech, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.

Liverpool and Senegal forward Sadio Mane deserves to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or after a standout 12 months for club and country, according to Didier Drogba.

Mane started all 13 matches in Liverpool's glorious Champions League campaign last term and finished joint-top-scorer in the Premier League as his side missed out on the title by a point.

The 27-year-old then helped Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Algeria.

Mane has started 2019-20 in impressive form, too, and was this week included on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or alongside six Liverpool team-mates.

He has Drogba's backing, as the former Chelsea explained to Paris Match.

"For the Cup of Nations, the Champions League and the Premier League [Mane deserves to win]," Drogba said. "What he does in the Premier League, very few players are able to do it."

George Weah is the only previous African player to have won the sport's top individual accolade, doing so in 1995, and Drogba is keen to see a new name in that select group.

"There are many players who have well represented the African continent, like Samuel Eto'o," he said.

"What is a pity is that when we talk about African player, we talk about the continent, we do not speak of a country. We will never say Kylian Mbappe represents the European continent. It is a small shift that is present.

"But to return to the question, it would be really nice if Sadio or even Mohamed Salah continue to raise their level of play to hope to win this trophy."

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