After worming his way into the Southampton line-up through an alleged ‘George Weah’ recommendation, Ali Dia firmly cemented his name in Southampton history as a true cult hero; but according to Graeme Souness, the facts of the story aren’t quite what they’ve been made out to be…
(or at least that’s what he says)
Once described by Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier as ‘f****** useless’, It’s safe to say that Dia remains a legend on the south coast for reasons different to that of Matt’s.
Dia’s one and only Premier League appearance for Southampton is one of the most bizarre moments in football history, but despite that, Souness remains adamant that he was never fooled.
‘This is the reality, not the stories you’ve seen,’ Souness told Sky Sports last Thursday. ‘The very first training session, we knew he wasn’t the best and wasn’t going to be any good to us.
‘But we had a lot of players out injured, so we kept him on and let him train with us because our numbers were low and we didn’t have a big squad.’
As the week goes on, others are dropping out,’ he added. ‘Terry Cooper says to me: “You know we are going to have to include that fool for the weekend.” I said: “No we can’t do that”.’
‘We had no strikers, so he’s on the bench for the weekend. (Matt) Le Tissier was off after 15 or 20 minutes. You’re looking down the bench, and we’ve got full backs and centre halves and you’re thinking get him (Dia) on, he can run around and be a nuisance.
‘So we put him on and he couldn’t even be a nuisance, so we took him off again.’
Harry Redknapp claimed that he was also targeted by the same caller, saying: ‘I keep getting phone calls at the training ground from a guy: “Georgie Weah”.
“Lovely George, you wanna play for West Ham?” He said: “No, I have a player for you.” I thought: “This is a wind-up”.’
Souness wasn’t the only one to receive a call from this mystical ‘George Weah’, however, he was certainly the only one to bite the bait.
‘The stories out there say we were conned or we were tricked,’ Souness concluded.
‘We weren’t tricked or conned. Within the first five minutes of the first training session we knew he was a dumpling.’
Sure you did Graham, sure you did.