Souness reveals true story behind signing Premier League’s ‘worst-ever player’ Dia

The Senegalese striker made just one appearance for Southampton in a now-infamous match against Leeds in November 1996

Former Southampton manager Graeme Souness has lifted the lid on how Ali Dia, considered by many to be the worst player in Premier League history, ended up playing for his team in 1996.

The Saints are purported to have been conned by Dia, who said that he was related to Ballon d’Or winner George Weah and came with the AC Milan star’s personal recommendation. In actuality, Weah did not know who Dia was. 

In addition, Dia claimed to be a Senegal international, which was also far from the truth. 

Souness said he knew within five minutes of seeing the forward play that he was “hopeless”, but Southampton’s squad was so thin in the 1996-97 season that Dia was forced onto the pitch in a now-infamous game against Leeds in November 1996.

“It’s a great story, and it’s a funny story. It’s not quite what you read or hear,” Souness told Sky Sports.

“Someone got a call at the football club … George Weah’s cousin or nephew was in England and looking to join a club. He wanted a trial. Matt [Le Tissier] will know at that time, we had such a small squad, and we had trialists in all the time.

“So this guy turns up, and anyone who’s been involved in football, you know in the first five minutes of a game – even if it’s a small five-a-side – if the boy can play or not.

“So, within the first five minutes on a Monday morning, we said he wasn’t for us. He was hopeless. But we didn’t have enough players to have an eight-a-side. So we kept him for a week, and as the week went on, we had more and more players that got injured.

“We were playing Leeds United on the Saturday, and Matt was our only fit forward. It’s all Matt’s fault because he only lasts for about 20 minutes! I was looking at the bench thinking, ‘what could we do?'”

Le Tissier went off injured against Leeds after 32 minutes, with Dia forced on for his first and only Premier League appearance. It went so poorly that he was subbed off after 85 minutes.

“I actually thought he’d won a competition to come and train with us,” Le Tissier recalled.

“So it was all my fault. I was the player substituted for possibly the worst player to ever play in the Premier League.”