During his football profession, El Hadji Diouf established a track record as a bad young boy of football. Now retired, the previous Senegalese global informs BBC Sport’s Stanley Kwenda why he thinks this was unjust.
El Hadji Diouf is a hero in Senegal. All over he goes he is mobbed by fans both old and young. His fellow citizens are still grateful for the excellent function he played throughout the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
But in England he is kept in mind more for his questionable shenanigans than for his football skill.
It is a quality that followed him in the English league clubs he played for – from Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers to Bolton Wanderers, with a spell for Rangers in Scotland.
Diouf was aggressive, spat at challengers and faced match authorities along with challengers.
But now in his retirement he is informing his story.
“I am a lion, I am a bad loser and it’s not incorrect to be a bad loser,” states Diouf of his frequently combative state of mind throughout his playing days.
“I have actually got character and I desire individuals to appreciate me.”
Diouf, who has now completely returned to the Senegalese capital Dakar, states he was frequently misinterpreted throughout his playing days in England.
“I am a simple target. It’s simple to discuss El Hadji Diouf and I let them talk however I understand in my heart I am a hero. My household understand, my population understands, my continent understands I am a hero which’s the very best thing. The rest is not my issue.”
Despite this defence, Diouf confesses he has actually done some bad things.
When asked why, for instance, he utilized to spit at challengers, he states: “Maybe they utilized to inform me something I didn’t wish to hear. I did that, I paid and now it’s completed.”
The Senegalese legend had a long dragged out row with previous Liverpool team-mates such as Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.
Even today, Diouf and Gerrard continue their fight through the media. Exactly what precisely is the issue?
“I have no issue with him. He (Gerrard) is a strong character and I am a strong character. ‘Stevie G’ was a great gamer, individuals like him in Liverpool however he never ever did anything for his nation. I am Mr El Hadji Diouf, Mr Senegal however he is Mr Liverpool and Senegal is larger than Liverpool and he needs to understand that,” responds to Diouf when reacting to concerns on his war of words with Gerrard.
Diouf is presently working back in the house in Senegal as a federal government goodwill ambassador. He is President Macky Sall’s advisor on sport along with running his own sports paper organisation in Dakar.
“My life has to do with sport however the federal government can refrain from doing whatever alone, they require assistance from individuals like me. The president thinks in me which’s why when I ended up playing football, he called me and informed me he desires me to assist due to the fact that the young generation think in me. I am an example to them,” states Diouf, who is frequently mobbed by youths when he visits his health club in downtown Dakar.
Asked if he will think about a function in politics, Diouf states at the minute he is focusing on assisting to establish his nation – however can not dismiss the possibility of going into politics in future.
“I am interested since we need to make things alter. Individuals like me can make things alter.
“We have a nation to construct, a continent to develop and why not be associated with politics tomorrow?”
Senegal on world map
Twice provided with the African Footballer of the Year award by the Confederation of African football (Caf), Diouf became part of the 2002 trailblazing Senegalese side which reached the last 8 at the 2002 World Cup, beating protecting champs France along the method.
He explains that duration as the best accomplishment of his profession.
“We put Senegal on the world map. Prior to the World Cup no one understood Senegal, however after the World Cup everyone needed to know where Senegal was. What Maradona provided for his nation (Argentina) is exactly what I provided for Senegal. I was among the most significant males at the 2002 World Cup.
“We were colonised by France, the majority of business are run by French individuals here and to beat them was a huge thing for us. Prior to the video game, they utilized to state: ‘The reserve group is going to bet the first string’ – due to the fact that the majority of the gamers utilized to play in the French league. I utilized to be in Lens, Salif Diao (Sedan), Khalilou Fadiga (Auxerre), the majority of the gamers played in the French league however we utilized to state: ‘Be mindful prior to you eliminate the lion.'”
Diouf states he wants to do more to assist establish football on the African continent, however feels structural modifications have to occur.
“Fifa has actually altered and now it’s time for African football federations to alter too,” he states.
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