Monday, June 22, 2009

The story of Ali Dia

Otherwise known as Bambi on Ice....

Has anyone reading this ever had the same daydream as me? You are at a Premier League game when the team you have supported as a boy is in big trouble; all 3 subs have been used and your star striker has come down with all-over cramp, or a heart attack or something, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, the manager of your team is having a head to head with the ref who starts nodding his head as if he agrees with what the manager is asking him. Suddenly the manager starts perusing the fans, looking the stands up and down and then…..he points at you. You look around and everyone is staring at you; this cannot be happening, surely, this is too immense – you stand up, the crowd goes wild, the manager throws you a shirt. You are playing up front my boy. Breathe it in!

Of course that scenario couldn’t possibly happen for a large number of various reasons, you weren’t named on the team sheet for a start, and Premier League rules would never allow it.

Plus it’s utterly ridiculous.

The following however, is a true story….

In 1996 Graeme Souness, former Scotland international and Liverpool FC legend was managing the then Premier League Southampton FC when he received a phone call from the great George Weah, FIFA world player of the year 1995. Weah told Souness that his cousin Ali Dia, a former Paris St Germain player and Senegalese international was currently without a club and would like to offer Southampton FC his services. Souness, being very flattered by a personal call from George Weah plus being offered a talent such as Dia could hardly refuse and signed Dia on a rolling one month contract. There was one slight problem, one that Souness would not know about until it was too late. Ali Dia was not an international player at all, he wasn’t even a professional and had never played top flight football. George Weah had never heard of him and never actually made the call to Graeme Souness, it was Ali Dia’s agent all along. The whole thing was a hoax.

How far did the hoax go? Well, on 23rd November 1996 Ali Dia made his Premier League debut as a 32nd minute substitute for the great Matthew Le Tissier in a game against Leeds United. It really did get that far. So utterly useless was Dia as a footballer he himself was taken off the pitch and replaced after the 53rd minute. The next morning he turned up to the training ground for treatment on an injury then was never seen again.

So, if there really is something you desperately want to do with your life and you cannot get there by skill or merit....

Just blag it.

Here's the aformentioned Matthew Le Tissier's take on the episode...

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