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Football Nutters | No10 – El Hadj Diouf

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El Hadj Diouf. Usually loved by their own but hated by everyone else. Often frustrating, the traits of the un-hinged can often get your club into more trouble than it’s worth. But all the same, we all secretly love a nutter, It makes things interesting. Which is why we’ve sieved through the badass history books to uncover the top 10 crazy bastards the footballing world has seen.

No 10 – El Hadj Diouf

With an ego the size of China and a car collection to make an Arabian prince blush, Diouf was never going to be one for staying out of the limelight, for better or for worse.

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Diouf arrived in England back in 2002 after joining Liverpool from Lens for £10m. ‘Dioufy’ made a slow start to his Liverpool career, scoring just three goals in his first season and struggling to make a lasting impression in the first team. But it was in the March of 2003 when Diouf finally made himself a household name. It was in the 87th minute of a UEFA cup clash at Celtic Park when Diouf, on retrieving the ball for a throw in, decided to spit on a group of Celtic fans.

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The midfielder was interviewed by police after the game and was slapped with a two-match ban and fined two weeks’ wages. Liverpool made a donation of around £60,000 to a Glasgow charity, with then-Anfield boss Gerard Houllier telling Diouf: “The stigma of what you did will follow you round for the rest of your career”.

But the spitting antics didn’t end there. As if projecting phlegm towards a group of drunk Glaswegians wasn’t proof enough that the lad was a nutter, Dioufy decided to secure his place as the most hated player on the planet by repeating the action, this time on an 11-year old Middlesbrough fan. Again, Diouf was interviewed by police and this time was charged with assault.

But it didn’t end there. Diouf was accused of spitting on several occasions throughout his career, finally coming to a head in November of 2004 when he clearly, and in view of TV cameras, spat right in the face of Arjan De Zeeuw. Enough was enough and Diouf was sanctioned with a hefty fine and a three match ban by the FA. Boss at the time, Sam Allardyce, also sat down with him to discuss possible psychological help, of which Diouf wasn’t interested.

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Now at Bolton, was enjoying his football again. A first team regular and a fan favourite he also seemed to be keeping himself out of trouble. That was until September 2009 when Diouf was questioned by police after allegations that he had racially abused an Everton ball-boy during a match, telling him to “fuck off, white boy”. Diouf defended his actions by saying that the ball-boy had thrown the ball to him “like a bone to a dog” and that Everton fans were racially abusing and throwing bananas at him; police, however, found no evidence of this.

Although managing to keep his nose clean up until the ball-boy incident, tales of an overly-lavish lifestyle, a bad attitude and drunken bust-ups regularly followed Dioufy and time was called on his Bolton career.

From Bolton, Diouf jumped from club to club, never really settling or regaining his form from Bolton. The controversy, however, remained.

During a brief spell at Sunderland, Diouf’s attitude and arrogance was said to be a major issue with other players and tensions were starting to build. This apparently came to a head with an altercation with club captain Anton Ferdinand in a local nightclub. When asked about the incident, he replied:

“I’m a man, I can defend myself. If there is a crazy guy who wants to take me on, I’ll show him that I’m crazier than him.

The first of his friends who came too close to me, he ended up running away.

“Since I was drinking champagne, I broke my glass and I attacked them… I came out unscathed, and since then, the club now uses plastic glasses.”

Unsurprisingly, Diouf soon moved on from Sunderland.

8th January 2011, whilst playing for Blackburn, QPR manager Neil Warnock accused Diouf of taunting Jamie Mackie whilst he lay on the pitch in agony after suffering a broken leg. In an interview later, Warnock referred to Diouf as “lower than a sewer rat”.

“I can’t abide people like that, I don’t know why he wants to take on the World. He’s a nasty little person,” said Warnock.

“For many years I have thought [Diouf] was the gutter type – I was going to call him a sewer rat but that might be insulting to sewer rats. He is the lowest of the low.”

4th July 2011, out of favour with current Blackburn Rovers boss Steve Kean so decided not to bother returning from his jollies for a pre-season tour of Austria. Sean reported that his whereabouts were unknown and Diouf was moved on.

February 2012, now playing for Doncaster and seemingly up to his old tricks after Blackpool forward Gary Taylor-Fletcher claimed that Diouf spat towards Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks. Taylor-Fletcher was quoted as saying “Diouf was back to his antics of spitting again”.

15th April 2012, Diouf and five other men were arrested following reports of a nightclub brawl in Manchester. One man was seriously injured and Diouf was bailed for a week.

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Diouf played his last game in England for Leeds Utd. In December 2013 It was revealed that Diouf had been made available for transfer after he had gone and missed several Leeds fixtures and training sessions for unspecified ‘personal problems’. It was later claimed that Diouf had asked for an ‘unreasonable’ amount of time off to attend the funeral of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. On 16th May 2014, Leeds called time on Diouf’s career in England and released him on a free transfer.

in November 2014, Diouf found himself another club, Malaysian second-tier outfit Sabah FA, signing a one-year contract and becoming team captain. However, things didn’t quite work out as he was criticised and labelled “unprofessional”.

Away from football, Diouf is still making the headlines. Earlier this year, he made the outrageous claim that Gerrard and Liverpool are racist.
“Liverpool isn’t a team that welcomes black people unless they are English.”

Gerrard has never liked black people. Every time I passed him, he never dared to look me in the eye.”

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Now retired, Diouf still fancies himself in the limelight, in a recent interview he stated his plans for the future.

“After El-Hadji Diouf the footballer, you will see the businessman and politician! In Saint-Louis, everyone is waiting for me, they want me to become Mayor.With my background and knowledge, I will make one of the most beautiful cities in Africa.

“I am going to change things for my country. Football or politics: whatever I do, it’s incredible.”

Absolute fruit loop!

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Andy Robertson – From Amateur to Anfield

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Another 3 points gained under the Anfield lights on Saturday evening and another outstanding performance from one of Liverpool’s star men. Nope we’re not talking about Salah, Mane Mane or Bobby Firmino because it’s all about Robbo, Andy Robertson.
The left back who has made the position his own and is quite rightly receiving the plaudits he deserves.

Andy Robertson

Just 5 years ago Andy Robertson was playing for Scottish 3rd Division side Queens Park, a club in which he signed for after having been released by Celtic for being too small earlier in his career.
His move to Dundee United saw him instantly catch the eye of many north of the border. A renewed contract was agreed within just weeks of his debut and was followed with being PFA’s “Scotland Young Player of the Year” and a subsequent place in the PFA “Scotland Team of the Year” for the 2013-14 Scottish Premiership season.

Andy Robertson
All of this convinced Hull City to swoop with a near £3m bid to get their man, United accepted and the left back was on his way to the EPL.
3 seasons with Hull under the stewardship of former Man Utd stalwart Steve Bruce allowed him to gain what is deemed acceptable experience in England and it was Liverpool who won the race for his signature.
An absolute bargain at a reported £8m and his dream debut season is showing no signs of slowing down.

He has even earned the approval of Kop legend Stevie G. He told BT Sport: “He’s done terrifically well since coming in and the fans have taken to him. It’s not just about Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres, the top players that come, the fans love someone who gives 100 per cent.”
“He’s come in and he’s a very humble kid and gives it his all every game. To be fair to the kid. He’s been excellent.”
His lung bursting closing down run vs Man City made him a social media sensation but for those who have watched him for the past few years this was nothing out of the ordinary.
International recognition has obviously come his way and with 20 caps already under his belt, his partnership with Kieran Tierney gives The Tartan Army a strong looking left side for years to come.
He’s has never given up and has taken every chance that has come his way.
One of the signings of the 2017/18 season has undoubtedly been Liverpool’s Number 26.

Andy Robertson

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Nick Pope – From League Two to Russia as Englands most in form keeper?

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Some pretty daft things are said in the wake of a team winning promotion. Players who, in the depths of winter, you were berating for not being able to pass a ball two yards are suddenly going to be providing the names of your first born. You claim that you believed in the team all along, when in reality, after a home defeat by Dagenham & Redbridge, you had sworn never to go again. Most stupidly of all however, you claim that your young loanee goalkeeper will go to the next World Cup. Or at least that’s what I did after Bury’s promotion on the last day of the 2014/15 season. While little Thomas Daniel has yet to show his face, the latter statement may actually come true as Gareth Southgate takes a look at Burnley’s Nick Pope in his latest England squad.

Nick joined Bury in January 2015, on loan from Charlton Athletic. Our promotion campaign wasn’t running particularly smoothly. The day before Pope’s debut we sat 9th in League Two, two points outside the play off places and nine points off the automatic promotion places. We’d lost nine games, shipped as many goals as Tranmere, who went on to be relegated and the aforementioned Dagenham & Redbridge had managed to do the double over us as they fought at the wrong end of the table. Three goalkeepers had already worn the ‘keeper’s jersey before Pope. Shwan Jalal, Rob Lainton and Scott Loach had tried and failed to provide the solid goalkeeper David Flitcroft was looking for.

Pope’s debut was a pretty forgettable home draw against Wycombe Wanderers. He conceded a goal, which was to be rarity during Nick’s time with Bury. In the following 21 games, Pope conceded only nine goals, won fifteen games and lost only four. Pope exuded a calmness rarely sighted in the fourth tier of English football, instilling a new confidence in a defence which had underperformed for most the season. Come the final day of the season, Bury needed to win to be promoted. Away at Tranmere, who had already been relegated, the nerves showed. Pope was called upon to make crucial saves to keep the scores level. In the 61st minute however, Tom Soares wrote himself into Bury folklore and at the end of game, Bury found themselves in League One.

The following season, Pope was back with parent club Charlton. He began and ended the season as Charlton’s first choice goalkeeper, not playing all the games as Charlton preferred Stephen Henderson through the middle part of the season. This season was to be one of disappointment however, as Charlton were relegated to League One. Rather than drop down to League One with Charlton, Pope’s career took a different path. The winners of the Championship, Burnley, decided to take Nick onto the Premier League, signing him on a three year deal in July 2016. Pope played only cup matches in his first season with the Clarets. Even when Tom Heaton missed Premier League matches, 37 year old former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson was the preferred option.

With Robinson retiring in July of 2017 and a further injury to Tom Heaton opening the door, the 2017/18 season has seen Pope grasp his opportunity with both hands. To date Pope has kept ten clean sheets in twenty seven Premier League appearances, working behind a defence containing fellow England hopefuls James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.

Could Pope go from League Two to a World Cup in three years? Despite being arguably England’s most in-form goalkeeper heading into the tournament the chances are probably slim. Without any injuries, Gareth Southgate will take Joe Hart, Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford. Despite being woefully out of form, going into a tournament without Joe Hart would be seen as a mistake by most, given his experience, even if he is just there to lend a helping hand to the number one. Butland doesn’t seem to be losing any favour from being embroiled in Stoke’s relegation battle while Pickford could claim to be Everton’s best player of this season. However one mistake, a loss of form or injury could see Pope take the place of any of these three.

Back at Bury, nearly three years have passed since that rainy day promotion at Tranmere and we have never properly replaced Nick Pope. Since that day twelve (!) different goalkeepers have been used, seven during the 2015/16 season alone. As we head towards relegation back to League Two, the summer would be that little bit more bearable knowing that an ex – Shaker was on the biggest stage of them all. All the best Nick, lad. UTS.

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How good is your FA Cup Knowledge?

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LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 27: The FA Cup Trophy is seen prior to The Emirates FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

How good is your FA Cup knowledge?

FA Cup Quiz

Test your FA Cup knowledge with our quiz to mark the occasion.

Leaderboard: FA Cup Quiz

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