Dakar (AFP) - Senegalese President Macky Sall paid tribute to former national football coach Bruno Metsu, who died from cancer aged just 59, as a host of football stars turned out to the funeral in Dakar on Monday.
Sall described the Frenchman, best known for leading the west African nation into the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, as "an example of humanity and virtue", calling him a "hero among Senegalese heroes".
"In this time of grief and sorrow for our country, I would like to express the ineffable compassion of the Senegalese nation," Sall said.
Leeds United forward El Hadji Diouf and former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Khalilou Fadiga were among a number of past and present footballers at the ceremony at a hospital in the capital.
Wellwishers waved posters of the coach and wore T-shirts bearing the message "Thank you Metsu" outside the funeral, attended by his widow Viviane Dieye Metsu and his children, as well as leading Senegalese politicians.
"Today, a true Lion went to sleep," the president said, in a reference to Senegal's nickname, the Lions of Teranga.
Metsu's coffin was draped in the Senegalese flag and the green flag of Islam, a religion to which the coach converted several years ago, taking the name Abdou Karim Metsu.
Born in January 1954 in northern France, Metsu played in midfield in the 1970s and 1980s for Valenciennes, Lille and Nice before taking coaching roles at Lille, Valenciennes, Beauvais and Sedan.
He stood down as coach of Dubai first division side Al Wasl in October 2012, due to health reasons, and finally passed away last week after a brave battle.
Senegal caused a sensation by defeating defending champions France in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup, going 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.
After his 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.