French soccer coach Bruno Metsu, best known for leading Senegal into the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, has died from cancer at the age of 59, friends said yesterday.
“He died overnight at 3:30am,” Herve Beddeleem, the executive director of BCM Gravelines-Dunkirk basketball club said, confirming a report in La Voix du Nord newspaper.
“I am shattered by this news. Bruno had everything to be happy — an exemplary professional career, money, a happy marriage and children, and then this cancer takes him away. It’s just incredible,” he said.
Metsu stood down as coach of Dubai first division side Al Wasl last year due to health reasons.
He subsequently told L’Equipe newspaper in July that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I underwent medical tests and the guy announces to me afterward that I had terminal cancer. ‘You have cancer of the colon, the liver and the lungs.’ They gave me three months to live, It was such a shock,” he said.
Instantly recognizable on the touchline with his dapper suits and long hair, Metsu caused a sensation at the 2002 World Cup when his Senegal team defeated reigning champions France in the opening match.
The Lions of Teranga went on to reach the quarter-finals where they lost 1-0 to Turkey.
Just months ahead of the World Cup, Metsu also guided Senegal to their only appearance in the final of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations where they were beaten on penalties by Cameroon.
“It’s a great loss for Senegal, Bruno Metsu not only marked Senegalese football, but the entire history of Senegal,” Senegalese Football Federation president Augustin Senghor said.
After his successful spell in charge of Senegal, Metsu went on to coach several clubs and nations in the Gulf region, notably winning the Gulf Cup with the United Arab Emirates in 2007.