Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier wants to get cult hero Ali Dia in the new Premier League Hall of Fame!
Earlier this week, the English top flight revealed their plans to launch an official Hall of Fame, with the first two inductees being revealed on Thursday, March 19.
Debate has been in full swing ever since Thursday’s announcement, as fans argue about who should and who shouldn’t get a place.
Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Eric Cantona are among the early favourites for those first two places, but Le Tissier had a more out there nomination…
It’s one of the more bizarre stories of English football folklore, in which 31-year-old Senegalese ‘striker’ Ali Dia not only convinced Southampton boss Graeme Souness that he was a footballer worthy of the top flight, but also that he was the cousin of Ballon d’Or winner George Weah.
Soon afterwards, Saints would realise they had been duped by the biggest phoney in the history of English football.
If you’re not familiar, here’s Le Tissier with the full story:
Matt Le Tissier on Ali Dia
“This guy turned up on the recommendation of George Weah – apparently. He was said to be George Weah’s cousin and George had said ‘this guy is a pretty good footballer, give him a try’.
“Graeme Souness was manager at the time, so this guy came down on the Friday morning and he trained with us and played five-a-side, and to be honest he didn’t look very good.
“I thought we’d never see him again, but when we turned up for the game the next day against Leeds and he was on the sub’s bench! I thought, that’s a bit strange, he didn’t look that good yesterday.
“Well, after about 20 minutes I got a calf strain and it’s actually me that comes off so Ali Dia could come on, and it was unbelievable.
“He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice, he was very, very embarrassing to watch, and just after half-time Souness actually had to take him off again because he was that bad.
“I have no idea if he was George Weahs’ cousin or not, I don’t think he was. It was a very bizarre situation.
“He was just chuffed to have got out on the pitch and played – I think it was a great wind up from someone!
“It was crazy. He even turned up the next morning for treatment on an injury, the physio told me, so he had a bit of treatment, leaves and then we never saw him again. He never came back. He just left, nobody knows where he went. Never to be seen since!
“It was very odd and I’m not quite sure how a man of Graeme’s experience fell for that.”
More than two decades later, Dia’s story has become legend.
And asked if his brief, former teammate is worthy of a Hall of Fame spot, Le Tissier told Friday’s Sports Breakfast: “Oh for sure! There’s a Premier League legend if ever you saw one!
“That man’s Premier League career will go down in history, will be forever talked about for years to come, just the one fleeting appearances as a substitute for Southampton.
“George Weah’s cousin, apparently, will be forever known as probably one of the worst players ever to play in the Premier League.
“AND, the distinction of being the person who was substituted for him… goes to me!
“That’s a real high point of my career!”
The Hall of Fame debate has already sparked a huge reaction among fans, and some suggestions for who should and shouldn’t get a place will undoubtedly polarise opinion – as Glen Johnson probably found yesterday.
And asked for his ACTUAL recommendations for the honour, Le Tiss said there is one clear candidate.
“It’s such a difficult question, but – and I may be showing a bit of bias here – I think the competition’s record goalscorer should probably go in there,” added the Southampton legend.
“I think Alan Shearer was just incredible in that era and the fact he’s still so many goals ahead of everybody else shows you what exceptional talent he had.
“And then you’re looking at people like Thierry Henry, he was one of my favourite players to watch, Ryan Giggs for what he did over a huge amount of time in the Premier League, and if you’re talking about exceptional skill and talent, which is the criteria for this, then Dennis Bergkamp has to be in the conversation. He’s one of my favourite footballers.
“And then what about David Beckham? There have been some magnificent players, some huge names, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to see the list of guys who go in there.”
But what about Le Tiss himself?
“Well, if there was a hall of fame for great goals, I’d expect to be in the top two, for sure,” he laughed.
“But, unfortunately, the criteria is a bit wider than that so I’ll probably have to wait a few years!”
We don’t know about that Matt – we’re sure you’ll get you Hall of Fame place soon enough.
Listen back to the legend that is Matt Le Tissier on talkSPORT above!