El Hadji Diouf at Liverpool – Gerrard fight, spitting, crazy parties
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Liverpool appeared to have landed an absolute gem when they managed to prise El Hadji Diouf away from Lens during the 2002 World Cup. The former Senegal ace was one of the star players at the tournament in Japan and South Korea and helped his country stun the holders France in their opening game as the African team went on to reach the quarter-finals. But Diouf’s time at Anfield was marred by controversy. And Express Sport takes a look at some of the unsavoury moments that defined his Reds career.
Steven Gerrard fight
There was clearly no love lost between Diouf and Steven Gerrard, with the 2002 African player of the year taking a series of swipes at his former captain in recent years. And in 2020, ex-Liverpool striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle provided fans with a detailed account of the time the two came to blows in the dressing room.
“It was half time of a pre-season game,” Sinama-Pongolle said during an Instagram live. “There was a fight between Diouf and Gerrard. I was traumatised. At half time, in the dressing room. Stevie G is all like: ‘You have to pass, you have to pass.’ And [Diouf] just loses it.
“He didn’t speak English. His English was rubbish. You know what he did? They hated each other so much. Steven Gerrard arrives saying: ‘Hey, you f*****.’ And [Diouf] couldn’t answer, so he grabs [manager] Gerard Houllier and says: ‘Tell him, f*** *** ***.’ He came in and said: ‘I’m not his mate, I’ll do him in straight away.’”
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During a UEFA Cup clash with Celtic in 2003, Diouf disgraced himself when he spat at a Celtic fan. He was fined £5,000, with Houllier later remarking: “His attitude sometimes, particularly his spitting habit, caused us problems. Maybe I should have been more wary of that because I remember that he did that once or twice when he was warming up for games. I remember a match at Anfield when he had some problems with West Ham fans. And of course what happened at Celtic, when he spat at a Celtic fan, was totally out of line.”
And Gerrard couldn’t resist sticking the knife in as he alluded to the incident in his autobiography. “It seemed to me that Diouf had no real interest in football and that he cared nothing about Liverpool,” the former England star wrote. “For example, the way he spat a huge globule of gunky phlegm at a Celtic fan in a UEFA Cup match at Parkhead in March 2003 summed up his contemptuous and spiteful demeanour.”
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Diouf’s professionalism was called into question time and time again throughout his career. And three years ago, ex-Liverpool player Jon Otsemobor recalled the time his former team-mate turned up at his house unannounced at 2am with 10 women for a party just hours before a training session at Melwood.
“When an older pro like that approaches you, you feel obliged,” said Otsemobor. “I was still a young lad and I was just disappointed thinking he took my friendship and used it. I felt at the time, when I went into the dressing room, you can’t just use me like that, I’m your friend. If he needed a place to stay and all that, fine, but I’m not hosting parties for all the different people who were flying into the country every weekend.”
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