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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Houllier names Diouf as biggest failure
By James Copnall
BBC West African football correspondent

El Hadji Diouf argues with a referee
Diouf has collected more yellow cards than goals in the Premiership
Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier's parting shot at El Hadji Diouf seems to indicate how far the Senegal striker's star has fallen.

Houllier identified Diouf, who he bought for more than 10 million in 2002, as the biggest failure in his transfer policy.

"The disappointment has been El-Hadji Diouf because he has great potential but has never shown consistency," the Frenchman said.

"On occasions he has not given a good impression of the club, and that has no doubt in my mind affected people's views."

Houllier was undoubtedly referring to an incident in which Diouf spat on a Celtic fan during a Uefa Cup tie.

That is Diouf's lowest point at Liverpool - but then, there have not been many highlights.

When he was purchased from French side Lens, just before his sparkling World Cup with the Senegalese Lions, many had high hopes for Diouf.

After all, he had inspired Lens to the verge of a French championnat, and had shone for Senegal in the 2002 Nations Cup finals.

Diouf walks off after the spitting incident against Celtic
On occasions he has not given a good impression of the club
Gerard Houllier
Those accomplishments were enough for Diouf to be awarded the African player of the year award in both 2001 and 2002.

All seemed set fair for Diouf to explode in England, and confirm his status as Africa's top star.

But it hasn't happened.

Diouf will certainly point to the fact he has been played out of position on the right wing, and to the pressure that comes of having to justify an expensive move to a high-profile club.

But others will be quick to jump to the conclusion that Diouf's carefree character - and exuberant approach to the rigours of professionalism - have much more to do with his struggles.

Worryingly for Diouf, his club concerns have transferred to the international stage.

The Lion failed to roar at Tunisia 2004 - except at referee Ali Bujsaim, as Senegal crashed out in the quarter-finals.

Diouf's scandalous verbal assault of the United Arab Emirates official earned him a four game ban from international football.

Diouf argues with referee Ali Bujsaim
Diouf's 2004 African Nations Cup was dismal
It is a sanction that may cost Senegal dear as they attempt to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in a tough group that includes Zambia and Mali.

It also shows how far Diouf's career has gone off the rails.

The temperamental star will have to get his act together if he is not to be reserved pride of place in the list of wasted talents.

As Houllier points out, what is infuriating about Diouf is that he does have special ability - yet he is not using the best of it.

Now Houllier has left Liverpool, Diouf will have the chance of a fresh start with the club's new manager.

But it may take a complete review of his priorities if Diouf is to get back to being the player who thrilled Africa and impressed the watching world at the start of the decade.

Who's next to leave?
24 May 04  |  Liverpool
Senegal misses stars
20 May 04  |  African
Houllier drops Senegal duo
14 Feb 04  |  Liverpool

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