23 Years Ago Today, Ali Dia Made His First And Last Premier League Appearance
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It's 23 years ago to the day that the one and only Ali Dia made his first and last Premier League appearance for Southampton.
The story goes that Dia had somehow tricked Saints boss Graeme Souness into thinking that he was the cousin of George Weah, who had just won the Ballon d'Or and World Player of the Year awards in 1995.
He had also claimed he'd turned out for Paris Saint-Germain, had played 13 times for his country and scored for them.
But despite it all being completely fabricated, Dia blagged his way into a one-month contract and even made an appearance in the Premier League.
On November 23 1996, Dia, wearing the No.33 shirt, replaced Matt Le Tissier in a home game against Leeds at the Dell after the Saints legend picked up a first half injury.
#OnThisDay 20 years ago, Ali Dia almost netted on his #SaintsFC debut... pic.twitter.com/5p3sALtOUS
- Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) November 23, 2016
:vs: Southampton v Leeds
:soccer: Ali Dia replaced Matt Le Tissier to make this first and last professional appearance.
:joy: He was later described as a "Dumpling" by Graeme Souness. pic.twitter.com/ykaDBw3BFK
- FansBet (@fans_bet) November 23, 2018
Happy Ali Dia Day everyone. #Keepit90s @mattletiss7 called him 'Bambi on Ice' pic.twitter.com/BNvCk0GwXp
- The 90s Football Podcast (@AK90s) November 23, 2018
:calendar: On This Day In 1996
Ali Dia made his one and only Premier League appearance :stadium:
He was subbed on for an injured @mattletiss7 in the 33rd minute and then taken off again 53 minutes later#SaintsFC pic.twitter.com/DYYq4b1l0P
- Premier League Stat Man :soccer: (@EPLStatman) November 23, 2018
But he was so bad he was substituted himself for Ken Monkou in the 85th minute in a 2-0 loss. It quickly became apparent that Dia was a fraud and he then had his deal rescinded after one cameo appearance.
Le Tissier gave a priceless account of the legendary tale in his autobiography.
"It was unbelievable. He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice," Le Tissier writes, as per the Liverpool Echo.
It was very, very embarrassing to watch. Souness actually had to take him off again because he was actually that bad.
"I have no idea if he was George Weah's cousin or not. I don't think he was. He was just chuffed to get out on the pitch and play. I think it was a great wind up from someone who came up with this idea.
"He turned up the next morning for treatment on an injury, the physio was telling me. So Sunday morning he turns up, has a bit of treatment, he leaves and then we never see him again. He never came back. He just left. Nobody knows where he went. Never to be seen again.
"It was very odd. Not quite sure how a man of Graeme's experience fell for that."
The Ali Dia story is one of the greatest in football history, but you might be surprised to learn that similar has happened in the modern game.
Earlier this year, Lithuanian side FK Panevėžys signed a player based on his profile on Wikipedia, even though it was all fake.
They announced the signing of Barkley Miguel Panzo and going off their statement on their official website, thought it was a bit of a marquee signing.
Panzo is a real footballer, in fact he is verified on Instagram, but a lot of the stats and information on his Wikipedia profile are not and it led to him getting his next career move.
Not only is he listed as an Angola international, his page also stated that he played for QPR in the Championship between 2010 and 2012, scoring 45 goals in 36 games. Of course, it never happened.
Incredible story in Lithuanian football. 2nd division side Panevėžys have signed Barkley Minguel-Panzo and seemed to believe in his fake story. His Wikipedia page states he scored 45 goals in 36 matches for Queens Park Rangers. He actually never played for them. pic.twitter.com/I1eMPNIeGO
- Justas Kontrimas (@JustasKontrimas) February 2, 2018