Oh Dia me (sorry).
Scouting operations. They’ve all become a bit geeky, haven’t they? Gone are the days of the pen and pencil wielding scout who mysteriously hid away from his clipboard and paper on a Sunday morning (at least we hope he was a scout) to be replaced by computer systems, databases and statistics, which pluck out even the most mundane and trivial facts and figures about a player to ensure that they possess all the “right” characteristics.
And that’s very boring. Boring in the sense that we will unlikely ever see another case like Ali Dia.
The story goes that Graeme Souness, Saints boss at the time, received a phone call from a man claiming to be George Weah – you know, that incredible forward from back in the day (odd enough) – with a tip-off about a young, promising footballer by the name of Ali Dia.
We’ve all tried to imitate our parents at one stage in our lives for one reason or another, typically bunking off school, or getting permission to go on trips, but pretending to be George Weah to buy yourself a trial at Premier League club Southampton takes the proverbial biscuit. Naturally, Dia has since denied any involvement, but to be quite honest, he isn’t fooling any of us.
“He’s played with George Weah at Paris St Germain and he’s been playing in the second division in Germany,” Souness explained in a television interview before Dia’s infamous debut (via Telegraph).
“We said come down and train with us for a week or so and see what’s what.”
Now, it’s one thing turning up on a Sunday morning as the guy your mate claimed to be “alright” but it’s a totally different kettle of fish being hauled on during a Premier League against Leeds United.
Saints icon Matt Le Tissier recounted the moment the Senegalese stepped foot on the field: “After about twenty minutes I get a calf strain and it’s me that comes off for Ali Dia.
“It was unbelievable. He ran round the pitch like Bambi on ice, he was so embarrassing to watch Graeme Souness actually had to take him off again after half time: he was that bad. It was a great wind up, I bet he was just chuffed to get out on the pitch.”
We think that tells you all you need to know about Dia, doesn’t it?
Southampton fans, do you remember the day Ali Dia made his debut? What was your opinion at the time? Let us know in the comments below…
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience