(CNN)Former Olympique de Marseille President Pape Diouf has died after contracting coronavirus, according to the French Ligue 1 club.
Diouf had been receiving treatment in his home country, Senegal, before passing away, the Senegalese President Macky Sall confirmed. “I pay tribute to the medical staff at Fann Hospital (in Dakar, Senegal) who spared no effort to save him,” Sall said on Twitter.
In a statement made on Twitter, Marseille said the 68-year-old Diouf had passed away on Tuesday after a battle with Covid-19. “It is with great sadness that Olympique de Marseille learned of the death of Pape Diouf,” the team said in a statement. “Pape will remain in the hearts of the Marseillais forever, as one of the great architects in the club’s history.Read More”We send our sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones.”READ: Can the Tour de France go ahead without the ‘soul of the sport?’ Diouf shakes hands with the then French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.’Charismatic’Diouf was Marseille’s president from 2005 to 2009. He was the first black president of a major European club. Before that he was a journalist and player agent, representing the likes of Marcel Desailly, Samir Nasri and Didier Drogba.”Journalist, agent, president of Olympique de Marseille from 2005 to 2009, Pape Diouf dedicated his whole life in service of football,” said a Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) statement.”A member of the LFP administrative council from September 2007 to June 2009, Pape Diouf will be remembered as a charismatic and passionate director.”In this moment of immense sadness for French football, the LFP offers its condolences to his family and those close to him, and to Olympique de Marseille.”During Diouf’s tenure, Marseille twice finished Ligue 1 runners-up and were finalists in two French Cups.
Absolutely heartbroken 💔
Rest in Peace Pape Diouf – My uncle, father, grandfather & godfather.
My mentor 🙏🏾 I can’t thank you enough for all you did for me, Andre, my father and my family. Today is one of the saddest days of my life to hear of your passing. 💔💔 xx pic.twitter.com/vPIVnv3MkP
— Jordan Ayew (@jordan_ayew9) April 1, 2020 ‘A great man’The year after his departure, the club won the league with many of the players he helped to sign playing key roles. “Today French football lost a great man,” said former Liverpool and France striker Djibril Cissé. “I will always remember our discussion a month before I got signed at OM, and even more, the ones we had after my injury. “When Pape calls me and says ‘I only have one word, we agreed on your signature at OM, and your injury won’t change (my mind) what I think of your quality and the fact that you’re a player made to wear the color of your club at heart that’s Olympic de Marseille.’ Deep respect for this man.” Nasri, who left Marseille to join Arsenal in 2008, spoke of the effect Diouf had on his blossoming career. Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videos
“Few people in the world of football have touched me or have had an impact like you may have had in my life or in my career,” the former France international said on Instagram.”You have always been a mentor, you have been my first agent, you were my president. And it is with a heavy heart that I must say goodbye. You left too early. I will never forget you, Pape Diouf.”