Former Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp has said he was “lucky to have managed” Papa Bouba Diop.
The ex-Senegal midfielder, who died on Sunday aged 42, spent three seasons at Fratton Park and was part of Redknapp’s team that won the 2008 FA Cup.
“I was very lucky to have managed such a fantastic boy – he was special,” Redknapp told BBC Sport.
“He did a great job for me at Portsmouth and I think the Portsmouth fans loved him.”
Redknapp continued: “They called him the Wardrobe, he was so big you couldn’t move him. He was a big colossus – you wouldn’t want to play against him.
“I was talking to my son Jamie [Redknapp, former Liverpool and England midfielder] and he said what a nightmare he was to play against.
“He was so powerful – a giant of a man. He would run all over you, was great in the air and he could pass. He was just a special talent.
“I was distraught when I heard the big man had passed away, I just couldn’t believe it. He had been such a healthy, fit, strong guy.
“What an athlete – a giant of a man and to lose him at such an early age is so sad.”
Redknapp said that despite Diop’s size he was a “gentle giant”.
“He was always happy – he never a bad word and would always laugh at the corniest of jokes.
“He looked aggressive on the pitch because he was so big but he always had a smile on his face.
“I never saw him have a cross word or be miserable – he was always upbeat.”