Graeme Souness has made a more than impressive start to his Newcastle tenure, but the beautiful game hasn’t always been so kind to the Geordies’ manager…
Newcastle United are unbeaten in 11 games thus far. With the team in the Premiership and progressing in Europe, the surprise choice has so far justified Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd’s faith in him.
Even those Newcastle fans who questioned his appointment must now be starting to warm to his no-nonsense ways, even if striker Craig Bellamy isn’t so enamoured with his new boss.
If he wins a trophy at Newcastle, ending the club’s 35-year quest for major honours, he will be immortalised in Geordie folklore.
He also enjoyed previous successes at Rangers, taking Blackburn to promotion and into Europe and even winning the FA Cup at Liverpool.
However, there is one thing that stands out on Souness’ managerial CV and that is the comical tale of Ali Dia.
In 1996, Souness, during his time as Southampton manager, was duped by a man claiming to be the cousin of a former world footballer of the year.
Footballing no-one Ali Dia had persuaded his agent to ring the former Liverpool and Rangers boss and pretend he was George Weah ringing about his relative, who just happened to be a highly talented striker he was representing.
The agent claimed Dia had played 13 internationals for Senegal and that Weah was certain he would succeed in the Premiership.
Souness’ curiosity obviously got the better of him and he gave Dia a one-month contract.
Dia’s first run-out was to be a reserve game against Arsenal, but a waterlogged pitch led to a postponement and despite never seeing him kick a ball in a competitive game Souness put Dia on the bench for Southampton’s game against Leeds.
Unfortunately, it was here that Dia’s real identity was uncovered…
His performance was so diabolical that Souness had to substitute the substitute after just 53 painful minutes.
Needless to say, his contract was rapidly terminated and he joined Gateshead, who eventually let him go in February 1997.
He has not been heard of since.
Little wonder Newcastle fans weren’t initially too ecstatic about Souness’ appointment.