Synyster Graves

Greatest Player of All Time – Ali Dia

by on Jun.29, 2011, under Greatest Players of All Time

In 1997 Graeme Souness got a call from Liberian international and AC Milan legend George Weah phoned him up, giving him a hot tip about a Senegal international striker called Ali Dia, who happened to be his cousin. Living down this region of England this was reported in the local news as a proper fairytale story with news reporters interviewing Souness and Dia respectively. The general vibe down here was mixed. Had Saints signed a hidden gem? Or was this a very elaborate f*ck up on Souness’ part?

Ali Dia was handed the #33 squad number and made his debut for Saints against Leeds United on the 23rd November 1996, I remember this day well because I was actually at the Dell that day watching that match. Saints were gunned down 2-0 from goals from Gary Kelly and Lee Bowyer if I remember correctly. Anyways, the part which people do remember is the moment when Ali Dia came on to replace Matt Le Tissier. After half an hour of hilarious skipping about and generally being completely useless, he was later substituted for defender Ken Monkou.

Now what gets me is that didn’t someone notice how crap he was before selecting him on the substitutes bench? After that match Dia disappeared as his contract was terminated by Saints before reappearing for non-league Gateshead. Ali Dia is part of one of the greatest hoaxes in footballing history, and for me the parodic legacy is brilliant, as well as me being one of the 15,000 people who saw his 32 minutes of crapness for my own eyes.

But seriously George Weah’s cousin?  What was he thinking?! Graeme Souness was a good manager for Saints, brought in some good players like Eyal Berkovic, Ulrich van Gobbel and Egil Ostenstad, and even masterminded the 6-3 demolition of Manchester United in the 96-97 season, but he will always be remembered for bringing in this clown of a player and giving him a chance without ever really seeing him play!

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