Lawyers acting for Steven Gerrard have dismissed El Hadji Diouf’s allegation that the former Liverpool skipper has “never liked black people”.
Diouf, responding to criticism in Gerrard’s new autobigraphy, also claimed black players from overseas are not treated the same as other players at Liverpool.
“We all saw how he made life difficult for Mario Balotelli in Liverpool,” Diouf is alleged to have told Senegalese radio station Radio Future Media. “I warned him. Liverpool are not a team that welcomes black unless they are British. Otherwise, you have no chance. This is common knowledge.”
“Gerrard has never liked black people. When I was in Liverpool, I showed him that I was black, I’m not English, but I will not let him walk all over me. All the time I spent there, he never dared to look me in the eye.
“Gerrard is just jealous. What I have done in football, he did not. When I came to Liverpool, I came up with the status of boss and he lives there. I am respected in world football, the greatest football experts have appointed me among the seven best players in the World Cup, the top 100 players of the century. Several big players do not belong. Everywhere I go out of my country, they worship me. [Gerrard], wherever he goes outside his city of Liverpool, will be insulted.”
Diouf’s claims were quickly rejected by lawyers acting for Gerrard.
They said: “The allegations in those alleged statements are completely false and seriously defamatory of our client.”
Gerrard on Diouf
Diouf’s comments come after Gerrard said the 34-year-old was the signing he liked least during his time at Anfield.
Gerrard wrote in ‘My Story’: ‘Gerard Houllier, a very good manager and a usually wise judge of character, signed Diouf in the summer of 2002. Gerard bought Diouf for £10m from Lens – solely on the recommendation of his former assistant, Patrice Bergues, who had coached Diouf there.
‘I understood why Gerard rushed through the signing, but he did not really know Diouf as a person. He was one of three new signings which were meant to turn Liverpool into Premier League champions.
‘We had finished as runners-up to Manchester United the season before and a combination of Diouf, Salif Diao and Bruno Cheyrou was supposed to drive us to the title. It was probably the biggest waste of £18m in Liverpool’s history.
‘We finished the season in fifth place and Diouf had sealed his place at the top of the list of Liverpool signings I liked least.
‘It seemed to me that Diouf had no real interest in football and that he cared nothing about Liverpool. For example, the way he spat a huge globule of gunky phlegm at a Celtic fan in a UEFA Cup match at Parkhead in March 2003 summed up his contemptuous and spiteful demeanour.
‘A few people have since asked me if I saw any comparison between Diouf and Mario Balotelli – and I’ve always said no. I’ve got respect for Balotelli; I’ve got none for Diouf.
‘Balotelli can be endearing sometimes — and that’s never a trait that you would associate with Diouf. The only positive aspect of the otherwise ugly signing of Diouf is that he worked hard on the pitch. He always wanted the ball, and he never hid.
‘But after a while I decided Diouf simply wasn’t your usual footballer. It seemed to me as if football got in the way of his social life. ‘