In a World Cup full of high-profile coaches, Metsu made his presence felt in the 2002 world championship in Korea-Japan.
“He died overnight at 3:30 a.m,” said Herve Beddeleem, the executive director of BCM Gravelines-Dunkirk basketball club told AFP, 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.
When Senegal stunned France 1-0 in the opening match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Metsu became a household name.
On Tuesday, the Frenchman lost his battle with cancer. He was 59.
Metsu was diagnosed with colon cancer shortly after replacing Diego Maradona as chief coach at Dubai’s Al Wasl club in July 2012.
But the cancer spread to his lungs and liver. He passed away at a clinic in his hometown of Coudekerque Village in northern France. He is survived by his wife and three children.
In a recent interview, Metsu had said: “Today, yes, I play the game of my life. I’m half and I want to win before the extension. Although the shock was terrible, I always positive. I do not lose the case.”
“It’s a great loss for Senegal, Bruno Metsu not only marked Senegalese football but the entire history of Senegal,” Augustin Senghor, president of the Senegalese Football Federation told AFP.
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.
“I’ve lost my brother,” said Michel Rouquette, who worked with Metsu at French club Sedan and was his assistant at Qatari side Al-Gharafa.
“On a sporting level he’ll be remembered as a coach who knew how to motivate his troops,” said Rouquette.
“His playboy side with his long hair gave him a laid back image and because of that he could never make a career as a coach in Europe. It’s a shame.”
French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron paid tribute to a man who would be remembered as someone “who never gives up, this tireless globetrotter of football who always pushes others to exceed their limits”.
French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet added that Metsu’s legacy was above all that of a winner.
“He was really passionate about football, he’ll leave the memory of a winner who succeeded I’d say on all continents with mad passion, a desire to win, consistency.
“An important personality from French football has left us. He gave the impression of a man able to convince others that French football had values. He was an example to follow in his convictions and the missions he undertook.”
Metsu’s playing career was largely based in his native France, along with a spell in Belgium with Anderlecht.
After retiring as a player, he took up the assistant manager post at his last club, Beauvais, and by 1988, he became full-time manager of the club.
He spent over a decade coaching in France before his first foray into international management.
Metsu spent a lot of time coaching Gulf nations. He had even converted from Christianity to Islam and changed his name to Abdullah Metsu.