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It was on this day back in 1996, when 'George Weah's cousin' famously played for Southampton

One of the most bizarre stories in Premier League history.

Dia claimed to be a Senegal international.
Dia claimed to be a Senegal international.
Image: Ray Wright

IT WILL SURELY go down as one of the greatest dupes of all time. And Graeme Souness’ most embarrassing moment.

It was 1996 and the Scot was in his only season as Saints’ manager when he got a call from someone who claimed to be George Weah.

The voice on the other end of the phone sang the praises of a player named Ali Dia, a cousin of Weah’s who had played for Paris Saint-Germain and for a team in the German second division. He also apparently played for Senegal 13 times.

Souness was intrigued and Dia was brought to the club, where he signed a four-week contract. On announcing Dia’s arrival, Souness said: “He played with George Weah at PSG, and last year he was playing in the second division in Germany…so we’re having a look.”

He played in a training session and was introduced to the first-team squad as a triallist. But he was named on the substitutes bench for Soutampton’s game against Leeds on 23 November 1996.

After Matt Le Tissier was forced off through injury, Souness took a gamble and threw on Dia up-front. Wearing the number 33 shirt, he made his Premier League debut.

It soon became obvious he wasn’t the player he was made out to be. Five minutes before the end, Dia was hauled off for Ken Monkou and was ultimately released from his contract two weeks later.

Le Tissier later described his performance as like watching ‘Bambi on ice’ and ‘embarrassing to watch’.

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It turned out Dia was a student at Northumbria University who was living on the south coast at the time. He went onto appear for Gateshead United before hanging up his boots after a hugely successful career in 1997.

Source: Haberdager/YouTube

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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