Written by El-Khoury
The Senegalese fraudster was the worst transfer of Southampton (and not only) to the football establishment. The case by the name “Ali Dia”, is one of the biggest frauds (if not the biggest) and scams of all time! The Senegalese Ali Dia, with unique stories, managed to wear even for a few minutes the jersey of Southampton, in the mid-90s, replacing the emblematic well known Le Tissier!
The Senegalese was always up to something fishy. He claimed to be a cousin of George Weah, that he was an international with the Senegalese national team and that he had played in Bologna and Paris Saint-Germain, and although all this was untrue, he still managed to play in Southampton.
Ali Dia football’s career
At a first glance on the Internet, Dia has been playing with various French teams from 1988 to 1992, such as Bove, Dijon, La Rosell and Saint-Quentin, but according to the French Football Federation, there has never been a footballer in France, with that specific name. In fact, the four specific French clubs never answered questions about Dia, emphasising, that in December 1993 he signed for Shatobrian, a 5th division team in France. However, he did not sign a footballer’s contract, but as a coach for the team’s youth with a wage of 470 euros!
According to Michel Bonnier, president of the team, Dia played in the first and second teams of Shatobrian in the 1993/94 season and on August 1, 1994 he left in search of a new team. He moved to Avignon, but for a few months after that he was unable to find a club. In those years, many African players from former French colonies began to come to France. That is one of the main reasons why Dia moved to a non-French-speaking country like Finland to create his own story from scratch.
Finland and his… cousin George Weah
In 1995, Dia went to Finnairin Palloilijat, a team in Helsinki known as FinnPa, founded by members of Aero, the Finnish national airline. In 1993, this team was promoted to the first division of Finland for the first time. At that time, the Finnish league had some players who later became famous, such as Sami Hippie of Liverpool, Kouki who passed through Swansea, Blackburn and Newcastle and the goalkeepers Jaskalainen and Niemulam (Southampton, Rangers and Fulham. So, the transfer to FinPa was a great step forward for Ali’s “career”, which spread stories about his, family stories with Waye. We note that being Weah’s cousin at that time is like having Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo as cousin today, since in 1995 the Liberian striker had won the “Golden Ball”, while he had also been named FIFA Player of the Year.
European teams started buying African footballers like buying meat with the “kilo”, but due to the lack of internet, the information they could collect about them was very limited. Most of the information came from a third party, as was the case with Ali’s manager. By no means could a Finnish club in the mid-1990s find out if Dia was a cousin of Weah’s. However, these kind of family stories brought in significant transfers and significant amounts for Dia.
Abyss, the soul of those in charge of the teams that made the transfers at that time. As for “FinPa”, the players of its academies at that time received 68 euros a week, while Dia, according to his teammates, was one of the highest paid, after he managed to close a deal for 340 euros, every week. Helsinki’s team had also borne the costs of Dia’s first arrival since they paid to take him from the airport to the hotel, but also for his stay there. After making a “expensive” bill in the hotel’s mini bar, he was transferred to an apartment whose rent was paid by the company again.
Dia got the number “18” and after some tragic appearances with “FinPa”, which from them he was established as a key member of the team due to the small roster, and in the end, in his fifth and last appearance, he said goodbye to the club with an episodic way of disappearing, without warning. His then-coach at that time had stated that Ali had gone to his mother’s funeral in France or Senegal and had been missing ever since. A teammate went to his apartment with a key and the what he saw was unreal! “It was as if a tornado had passed through the apartment, and there were bones on the floor. It was as if someone had done magic,” he said.
Remarkable of this mini career in “FinPa”, was a remarkable statistic. Dia managed in one match to go offside 10 times in one half, destroying all the attacks of his team.
After a while, he gave life again in northern Finland, signing with PK-35, a smaller team. When he appeared there, he started telling his classic stories and after 3 games he left, having managed to score a goal.
Second stop: Germany
In the fall of 1995, Dia went to the German “VfB Lubeck”, which had just been promoted to the second division of Germany. At that time, the coach was Michael Lorkowski, who had previously won the German Cup with Hannover.
In a test game with the “VfB Lubeck” jersey, Dias scored 5 goals! Therefore, it was not difficult for the team leaders to convince him to sign a contract. “It must have been his lucky day, because then he was incredibly bad,” said Lorkowski, who used Dia only twice in league games and later cancelled their contract.
Third stop: England and the top stories with Southampton!
Dia did not give up and tried his luck in England, “creating” an incredible resume. When Dia arrived in England, he made trials in various teams, including Jillingham and the reserves of Roderham United. Dia told Roderham that he was a Senegalese international and that he was playing for VfB Lubeck last season. At least this time he told half the truth and that was enough to convince them to get him.
After a few bad games he disappeared once again. “He went to Southampton without even notifying us,” a former Director of Spartan later said. On November 22, Southampton received the “OK” from the English Federation for whether Dias can play in the 1st division, and a day later Dia made his first and last appearance in a Premier League game, replacing Le Tissier (legend for the Southampton team) in a match against Leeds!
Just 14 days after arriving in Southampton, Ali Dia disappeared. His monthly contract was abruptly terminated in the middle and he travelled north, leaving his hotel account unpaid, while making an appearance with the reserves of Port Veil in the team’s 3-2 defeat by Sunderland, scoring both goals for the team in their loss.
Read the second part of this story here!