As Senegal took on Ecuador in the Group A FIFA World Cup match at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday, captain Kalidou Koulibaly wore a number 19 on his captain’s armband. 

He was joined by a chorus of fans in the stands who all painted the number 19 on their back. As Senegal look to qualify for the Round of 16 without their star man Sadio Mane, we take a look at why the number 19 was everywhere among Senegal fans today. 

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Number 19 was the jersey number of former Senegalese midfielder Papa Bouba Diop, who is considered a hero in the country. 

Diop passed away aged only 42 on November 29, two years back. 

He was suffering from a long illness and died at his Dakar home in Senegal.

Diopp was part of the Senegal squad that reached the Round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup. They finished second in the group below the Netherlands with six points from three matches.

After their win against Ecuador today, the Senegal team created history by reaching the Round of 16 for the first time since 2002. Along with Diopp, the current Senegal coach Aliou Cisse was also part of that team.

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Speaking at the post-match interview, Koulibaly dedicated the win to Diopp. The Napoli defender scored the winning goal for Senegal today 70th minute after the threat of elimination loomed large on them when Moises Caicedo scored a 67th-minute equaliser. 

Koulibaly plays for the Italian club Napoli as a midfielder. He is captaining Senegal in the absence of Sadio Mane, who suffered an injury just 13 days before the start of the Qatar World Cup.