Around here, we tend to remember Papa Waigo N’diaye as a little bit of a cult favorite. The Senegalese winger never quite blossomed into stardom, but his enthusiasm, obvious love for Fiorentina and life in general, and dance moves would have been enough to endear him to everyone. Of course, he also scored the equalizer to set up the 2-3 Viola win over Juventus back in 2008. His goal is at the 2:25 mark in the video, but you should really watch the whole thing, because c’mon, what else have you got going on?
That was certainly his high-water mark in purple, as he only made 8 appearances, scoring twice. He left on loan to Lecce, Southampton, and Grossetto before moving on to Ascoli for a couple of years. Since 2012, he’s been bouncing around the Emirates, and, aged 32, currently plies his trade for Al Urooba. He’s got 15 caps and a pair of goals for Senegal as well, although he hasn’t been called since 2008. All in all, he’s had a successful, albeit unremarkable, career.
He’s doing a lot more than soccer these days, though. Besides his duties as a footballer, he’s also directing the Ndar Guedj footballing school back in Senegal, and has just signed a groundbreaking deal with Serie D outfit San Marino Calcio that will create a pipeline of young Senegalese talent that will spill out in the principality; the club, in turn, will create a welcoming environment to ease the new arrivals into the world of European soccer. The first student will be making the switch in January, and many more are sure to follow.
After discussing his excitement about giving back to the footballing community in Senegal, Papa Waigo also addressed Fiorentina and, true to form, delivered some really wonderful statements. “I didn’t give much to Fiorentina, aside from that historical goal against Juventus, but the fanbase has stayed in my heart and I want, when I finish playing soccer, to return to Florence.” He continued that he’s always been and will always be a Viola fan and follows the club closely online (if you’re reading this, uh, HI PAPA WAIGO WE LOVE YOU). He also described Khouma Babacar as a brother and mentioned that they’re still regularly in contact, emphasizing his hope that the young striker would keep working his magic in Florence.
It’s a nice reminder that for all the awful things going on in football that tend to grab the headlines, there are still plenty of good guys out there, quietly working away to keep things moving forward. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone who recalls this dance that Papa Waigo is one of the good guys. I really hope he ends up back in Florence and back with Fiorentina in some capacity when he’s ready to hang up his boots. And man, that dance.