Pape Diouf, the first African to be the president of a major
European club, died on Tuesday at the age of 68 after he became ill last week with COVID-19
Diouf was president of Marseille for four seasons (2005-09) after being an influential agent.
He was born in Chad and raised in Senegal. He fell in love in French soccer reading French soccer magazines hidden in his lap while he attended school in Dakar.
Diouf's father was in the French army in World War II and wanted him to follow suit. Diouf moved to Marseille as a teenager with plans to enter the army but he took up sportswriting at La Marseillaise, the Marseille daily.
He became friends with Cameroon goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell, who would come to Diouf's office each afternoon to use his phone, taking calls from other African players needing advice. Diouf soon became an influential agent representing the top African-French players such as Basile Boli, Marcel Desailly and Didier Drogba.
Diouf was in Dakar when he became ill last week with COVID-19. He was placed on a ventilator on Saturday.
Diouf's death brought out of outpouring of messages from players for whom he was their mentor.
In a statement, Marseille said Diouf "will remain forever in the hearts of Marseillais as one of the great craftsmen of the history of the club. Our condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Photo: Philippe Laurenson/DPPI/Icon Sportswire