Alhagie Momodou Njie, regarded as The Gambia’s greatest footballer, died at a hospital in Dakar, Senegal, on Sunday following a long illness, his former club Sevilla announced.
Spanish La Liga club Sevilla, where Njie was the club’s first black player, said he recently underwent an operation but was unable to pull through.
Njie, popularly known as Biri Biri, joined Sevilla in 1973 and made 109 appearances for the club scoring 34 times in a five-year stay.
The club issued a statement saying that Njie’s death was “a dark day for the Sevilla FC family”. The club fondly recalled that Njie’s 14 goals in the 1974/75 season were key to the team’s promotion. In 2017 he was presented with the gold insignia of the club.
“Many players have a better record in the club’s history, but few have left such a mark on the fans like him. Those five years meant that the Gambian international left a legacy in the hearts of Sevilla fans which will never be forgotten, as both a legend and idol,” Sevilla said in a statement.
Sevilla players wore black armbands and observed a minute of silence, with Valencia players, as a mark of respect to Njie in their final La Liga game, which they won 1-0.
Other teams in Spain condoled with Sevilla, including La Liga champions Real Madrid and Málaga C.F.
“Real Madrid C. F., its president and Board of Directors are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sevilla F. C. legend Alhaji Momodo Njle, ‘Biri-Biri’,” a statement from the 13-time European champions read in part.
“From Málaga we extend our deepest condolences to Sevilla for the sad loss of their legend, Biri Biri,” the Segunda División side tweeted.
Njie also played in his native Gambia for Black Diamonds, Phomtoms and Augustines as well as in Sierra Leone for Mighty Blackpool.