The story of Ali Dia is an interesting story that you can’t help but wonder what in the world was he thinking? His bravery is a display that needs to be commended though, irrespective. Enjoy it..
In November 1996, Dia convinced Graeme Souness, then Southampton manager, that he was the cousin of FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, which led to him signing a one-month contract with Southampton, days later Dia played only one match in his short spell at the club.
He came on as a substitute in a league game, but was then himself substituted. He was subsequently released, 14 days into his contract
After Souness received a phone call purporting to be from Liberian international and then-FIFA World Player of the Year, George Weah. “Weah” told Souness that Dia was his cousin, had played for Paris Saint-Germain, and had played 13 times for his country. None of this was true, and the phone call to Souness was made by a fellow university student of Dia’s, suggesting that he should give Dia a chance with Southampton. Souness was convinced, and Dia was signed on a one-month contract.
However, it did not take Southampton’s players long to notice they had brought in a dud.
“I only really trained with him once, on the Friday before the fateful day.” Matt Le Tissier recalled. “He joined in the five-a-side on the Friday morning, and was introduced to us as a trialist. I remember at the time thinking: ‘He’s not very good. He’s probably not going to make it.’”
Yet Dia did. With Southampton depleted by injuries, he was put on the bench for the match against Leeds on 23 November. When Le Tissier came off injured after 32 minutes, Dia replaced him.
In total Dia lasted 53 minutes, replaced with five to go by Monkou.
“He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice,” Le Tissier said. “It was very, very embarrassing to watch. We were like: ‘What’s this geezer doing? He’s hopeless.’ Graeme named him as a sub and we couldn’t believe it. I got injured after 20 minutes and when I saw him warming up, I’m going: ‘Surely not?’ Graeme put him on and he was fucking hopeless, so he took him off again. It was crazy.”
His next move..
Dia then signed for non-league Gateshead in December, and scored on his debut, a 5-0 win over Bath City.
He scored two goals in eight games, but a change of manager did for him and he was transfer-listed in February 1997. He reportedly enrolled at Northumbria University, graduating with a degree in business studies in 2001.
Dia’s duping of Southampton was certainly a good piece of personal business – he made £2,000 during his two-week stint on the south coast, and reportedly earned £400-a-week at Gateshead, becoming their top earner while also getting a four-figure signing on bonus.
Dia’s whereabouts since graduating are unknown.
Source: Onside Footy