A few weeks ago, I kicked off the list of SevernSport’s Greatest Premier League Players Ever with the goalscoring machine that is Thierry Henry. Over the next few days, we’ll be counting down our Worst Players Ever and I am tasked with kicking off the list.
To make it in the Premier League, the best league in the world, you need a few things. You need skill, pace, power, footballing ability and most importantly, you need to be rated highly. Unfortunately, this player, if you can call him that, had none of these things. After an early playing career at the lower levels of German and French football, this man joined non-league Blyth Spartans, where he made one substitute appearance in a Northern Premier League game against Boston United in 1996.
In November 1996, this man famously managed to convince then-Southampton manager Graeme Souness that he was the cousin of Ballon D’Or winner George Weah, one of the best players to ever grace a football pitch. That led to him signing for Southampton days later on a one-month contract. I am of course talking about the infamous Ali Dia, in my opinion, the worst Premier League player ever.
In a truly shocking turn of events, Dia wasn’t actually George Weah’s cousin. I know, unbelievable Jeff! The man on the end of the phone claiming to be Weah was in fact Dia himself, another shocker! Somehow, he managed to convince Souness to sign him up to a one-month contract. Even more surprisingly, he managed to evade suspicion in training and was stuck on the bench by Souness for Southampton’s league game against Leeds United in November 1996.
Donning the number 33 shirt it looked as if Dia was just there to make up the numbers. But not too long into the game, Saints’ legend Matt Le Tissier was injured and Ali was chucked straight in at the deep end. However, Dia himself was substituted just 20 minutes later by a highly embarrassed Souness after realising that the Senegalese midfielder had no footballing ability whatsoever.
The incident has gone down in English footballing folklore as one of the funniest moments in Premier League history. Years later, Le Tissier described the incident: “He ran around like Bambi on ice; it was very embarrassing to watch” he said. Upon his release from the Saints, he signed for non-league Gateshead and incredibly played 8 games and scored 2 goals before leaving in February 1997. He went on to study business at Northumbria University before graduating in 2001.
So there you have it, the worst Premier League player ever is Ali Dia, ‘cousin’ of George Weah. Let us know your thoughts on Twitter on @SevernSport.
Kelsey De Maria
Be sure to keep an eye out for part 2 of SevernSport’s Worst Premier League Players Ever! Coming soon!