West Ham United are pleased to announce the signing of experienced midfielder Papa Bouba Diop.
The Senegal international has signed a one-year contract with an option to extend for a further 12 months following his departure from AEK Athens, where he won the Greek Cup and appeared seven times in the UEFA Europa League last season.
Standing at 6'5, the imposing Diop becomes Sam Allardyce's ninth summer signing after completing a successful trial period at Chadwell Heath. Although keen to secure his services, the Hammers then had to wait until he was granted a work permit at a London hearing attended by the manager on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking exclusively to whufc.com after playing for a planned hour in a 3-1 development squad victory against Brentford, Bouba Diop said: "I am very happy today. I enjoyed playing again and it is good to be here to sign. I want to help West Ham go up and I hope we can be successful.
"English football is the best in the world. I have come here to work hard and give 100 per cent in every game I play for West Ham United. I want to show the people I am back again."
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The midfielder has vast experience and undoubted quality, having won trophies in three different countries, made more than 60 senior international appearances and appeared at the FIFA World Cup.
After impressing at Espoir Dakar, Diaraaf Dakar and Vevey Sports in his homeland, Bouba Diop was snapped up by Swiss Super League club Neuchatel Xamax at the age of 18 in 1996. In 2000, he moved on to Grasshoppers Club Zurich, where he won the Swiss Super League title and appeared in the UEFA Champions League.
Bouba Diop's outstanding displays for giant-killers Senegal at the 2002 FIFA World Cup saw French side RC Lens splash out more than £1m to take him to the Stade Felix Bollaert. Again, the towering midfielder impressed, playing more than 70 league matches for Les Sang et Or and scoring twice in ten UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup appearances.
Fulham spent a reported £6m to bring the African to English football in July 2004, with Diop making an immediate impression on the Premier League with his athleticism, tough tackling and long-range shooting.
Nicknamed 'The Wardrobe', Bouba Diop quickly became a popular figure among the Craven Cottage faithful, scoring nine goals in 84 appearances over three seasons in west London.
In summer 2007, he moved on to Portsmouth for £3.5m, helping the club to lift the FA Cup in 2008 and appearing four times in the UEFA Europa League.
Pompey's relegation in 2009/10 and subsequent financial difficulties saw Bouba Diop leave Fratton Park for AEK Athens in July 2010.
At international level, Diop, 33, has been an important member of the Senegal squad for a decade, making 63 senior appearances and scoring eleven goals.
At the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, he scored the winner in his country's shock 1-0 victory over holders France in Seoul and twice more in a 3-3 draw with Uruguay in Suwon as Senegal reached the quarter-finals.
He has also appeared in three CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, helping Les Lions de la Teranga to fourth place in 2006.
The midfielder becomes the ninth new recruit at the Boleyn this summer, following Abdoulaye Faye, Kevin Nolan, Joey O'Brien, Matt Taylor, John Carew, George McCartney, Sam Baldock and Brian Montenegro.
More signings are possible ahead of the 11pm deadline on Wednesday.
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