Premier League Conmen – Southampton’s Ali Dia
By Guy P.
November 1996 – Southampton manager Graeme Souness received a phone call from a man claiming to be George Weah, then one of the world’s most feared strikers. During the course of the conversation, Souness was persuaded to sign Ali Dia, allegedly George Weah’s own cousin. Souness was excited about the prospect of signing a player he believed to be a Senegal international with previous top-flight experience, playing alongside his cousin at Paris St.Germain, as well as having made numerous appearances in the German Second Division. One might have thought that Souness would have been suspicious as to why Weah, a Liberian, had a cousin playing for Senegal – but apparently no mention was made of this.
23/11/96 – Southampton vs Leeds – A little over half-an-hour into this Premier League encounter Saints talisman Matthew Le Tissier picked up an injury and was unable to continue. Ali Dia was ordered to shed his tracksuit and enter the fray for Southampton. The player’s performance transpired to be the most extraordinary display in Premier League history, as Dia, it turned out was Dia not only in name but also in nature. For the next twenty-one minutes until Dia’s own substitution, fans witnessed a player bereft of skill, with two left feet and the first touch of a Mexican rapist. Matthew Le Tissier, reminiscing on the farcical performance, commented ‘he ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice: it was very embarrassing to watch.’
Though Dia promptly fled the city, it was not to be the last time that the player would be seen gracing the field of play on these shores. Shortly after the fiasco Dia was turning out for non-league Gateshead.
Still, to this day Southampton fans chant, ‘Ali Dia, he’s a liar, he’s a liar.’
George Weah denied all knowledge of the player.
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