30 Day Challenges… Day 12
“A Player From Your Least Favourite Team”
Yup, it’s the El Hadji Diouf rant.
I first saw him at the World Cup in Japan and Korea in 2002. Clearly quite a talented player, he was part of the Senegal team that beat the reigning champions France on the opening day. He was also part of the team that beat Sweden which disappointed me as I’d been supporting them due to Larsson’s participation, but that’s football for you. Anyway, Diouf’s performance at that World Cup got him a move to England and to Liverpool.
2002-03 was Celtic’s run to Seville. On the way there we beat some decent teams, but one of the biggest scalps had to be Liverpool in March 2003. The Celtic Park game was a 1-1 draw, but the score wasn’t the headlines from that night. No, the headlines was of the despicable behaviour of Diouf. Having run so fast to try and catch a ball before it went out of play next to the main stand, he couldn’t stop himself falling into the home support in that stand. The supporters, willing to help a man who was clearly giving his all to what was an entertaining game, helped him back up to his feet. In return for this kind gesture, he turned around and spat at the supporters. There was nearly a riot as the fans reacted furiously. He was eventually charged and found guilty of assault for this action. Despite his initial plea of not guilty and bizarre claims that in his country being patted on the back of the head was a sign of slavery (claims that have long since been dismissed as made up nonsense), he eventually changed his plea to guilty.
This all but ended his Liverpool career. He was sent out on loan to Bolton, where Sam Allardyce – another detestable man in my eyes – gave him a game. He shouldn’t have bothered since he then went on to spit at another fan – this time an 11 year old Middlesbrough boy – and next a Portsmouth player. Both of these came in November 2004, but bizarrely Diouf was giving a permanent contract with Bolton. After this he seemed to keep quiet for a while, but wherever he went he was universally hated.
You’d think he’d have calmed down after this, but sadly not. Following a brief – and unpopular – half season at Sunderland under Roy Keane (another man who was never far from controversy) he was reunited with Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers at the start of 2009. By September 2009 he was back in the bad books after racially abusing an Everton ball boy. His claim this time? The Everton fans had been racially abusing him and throwing bananas at him. The police investigated and found no evidence.
You’d think by now he’d be gone, but no. With Allardyce gone, Diouf’s chances at Blackburn started to dwindle. He was still there long enough to be found taunting Scottish international Jamie Mackie as he lay on the ground with a broken leg – actions that had Mackie’s manager refer to him as “lower than a sewer rat”. Surely now this man would be hunted out of not just English football but all of football?
Well he certainly got out of English football. With Rangers desperate to sign anyone and Blackburn desperate to just get rid of the sewer rat, he got a loan deal to Glasgow. Blackburn paid most of his wages just to get him out the door which suited skint Rangers and he was back on course to face the team where his first incident had occurred – Celtic.
Not that we’ve noticed. There’s been five Glasgow derbies this year. The first came before he arrived. The next one saw him on the end of one of the funniest celebrations of the season – Scott Brown equalised for Celtic and then stood with his arms outstretched. It’s caught the imagination of the Celtic support. Diouf was anonymous again in the next game where Rangers were hammered 3-0, and then the Scottish Cup replay was another shame game… for him anyway. He barged physios out of the way, spent most of the game arguing with the referee and was eventually sent off after the final whistle… which he ignored and went over to the adoring Rangers support who like a good pantomime villain.
Because lets face it, that’s what he has become. Even this week he was telling Algerian newspapers how much of a good friend Colonel Gaddafi is. Really?!
It was of no surprise that the only time Rangers have beaten Celtic this calendar year was a game he was dropped to the bench. He wasn’t involved until the very end – and even then he got booked for diving. The man is a cancer in football and the sooner he is gone from it the better. It’s a disgrace that men like Sam Allardyce and Walter Smith think he’s worth giving the time of day to, let alone a contract to play football.
The decent footballer we saw in World Cup 2002 has long since disappeared. There’s still a bit of talent there, sure, but it’s lost in the mayhem. Mayhem that needs to end.
But then isn’t that just the case with most things surrounding Rangers these days?