The Worst XI: Diouf

The Worst XI

Welcome back to the Worst XI where we’ve found ourselves coming to the right winger of this side. Now this is a bit of a sticky situation for me because I usually give it some spiel about results but, this time, there’s nothing really to hype up and I’ll do full results for the wingers next week.

It’s time we spoke about El Hadji Diouf.

In 2001/02, Liverpool sold ‘God’ to Leeds midway through the season, replaced him with Nicolas Anelka and finished second in the league. They weren’t far off though but needed that extra push to get over the hump and win the title. Gerard Houllier, in his infinite wisdom, decided that Anelka was not that man despite his impressive loan but that Lens’ Senegalese international El Hadji Diouf was. A £10 million deal was agreed before the World Cup in Japan and Korea and everyone was very excited.

They got even more excited as Senegal shocked the world and reached the quarter finals with Diouf being the star turn. Liverpool then were expected to go on to new heights with Diouf. Things started promisingly enough too with a brace against Southampton early doors but those two goals proved to be a third of the goals he’d score for Liverpool.

The problem was that, for all the hype, Diouf’s attitude and application were questionable at best. After his goals against the Saints he wouldn’t find the net again for a whole three months and he’d end the 2002/03 season with just six to his name. He had a penchant for going missing in games and offering little if any skill or creativity on the ball. In fairness, Liverpool were hardly playing brilliantly but we did have Heskey and Diouf as the main wingers so what can you expect?

Diouf did finish the season with a Worthington Cup medal to his name and after some very brief moments of quality, you’d think he would get better, right? Right? Of course not. The Senegalese number nine tried even less the following season as Houllier lost his job and Diouf became the only number nine in Liverpool history to finish a season without a single goal to his name. He was abject.

In spite of this, Houllier and Phil Thompson would praise him to the media to high heaven, raving about his ability. Thompson even called him a “pristine boy” in the lead-up to a UEFA Cup tie against Celtic in 2003. Then he went and spat on a Celtic fan. And that’s all you ever hear about when Diouf’s name is mentioned at Anfield. And rightly so. It was filthy but a perfect representation of Diouf’s Liverpool career.

Thankfully, Rafa Benitez arrived in 2004 and his first order of business was to get rid of Diouf. It was hardly a sad goodbye with Steven Gerrard saying in his autobiography that his “attitude was all wrong” and Stevie felt “he wasn’t arsed about putting his body in the line to get Liverpool back at the top”. Jamie Carragher was even stronger in his criticism prompting Diouf to spend the last few years criticising the two of them to stay in the headlines.

Diouf’s career would be littered with controversy post-Liverpool despite some good performances at Bolton. He’d underwhelm at Sunderland, Blackburn, Rangers, Doncaster and Leeds before seeing out his career with Sabah FA in Malaysia. Diouf has now retired from football but is now an adviser to the President of Senegal.

To lighten the mood, here’s a video of Diouf and Emile Heskey linking up for a goal showing just how exciting Houllier’s side was around 2003/2004.

Next week – the greatest footballer in the world… according to Neighbours.

this is anfield sign above player tunnel

Anfield’s Echoes: The Heartbeat of Liverpool’s Legacy and Triumph

Liverpool FC, stands as a beacon of triumph and tradition in the football world. With a history that stretches back over a century, the club has not just accumulated trophies but has woven itself into the fabric of football lore. Known for its passionate fanbase that spans the globe, Liverpool’s influence extends beyond the pitch, […]

Read More
liverpool spurs european cup final 2019

Liverpool Legends: The Top 5 Iconic Goals by Steven Gerrard

When you think about the team Liverpool, you can’t help but think of Steven Gerrard. Without a doubt, one of the best players that team has ever seen. He was only a mere 17 years of age when he put on the famous red jersey, a teenager still, with huge amounts of responsibility placed upon […]

Read More
kop close up lots of flags and banners

Liverpool Football Club Famous Songs And Chants

Whilst Scouse exceptionalism is something that really annoys fans of other clubs, the reality is that the atmosphere at Anfield can genuinely be a big difference maker in the matches that matter. No, the Kop isn’t going to get up for a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on a Saturday afternoon, but put the Reds in […]

Read More