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Mental toughness helped me - Diao

Salif Diao
Diao has also played for French sides Monaco and Sedan

Stoke midfielder Salif Diao has said making 100 starts for English clubs is down to to his mental strength.

Diao reached the landmark in the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday, almost seven years after making his debut for Liverpool.

The former Liverpool, Portsmouth and Birmingham player told BBC Radio Stoke: "With the injuries I have had, I'm still here trying to push on.

"It shows how resilient I am, some players would have retired."

Diao added: "I'm not someone who lets things get them down and that's very important in football these days.

"The mental side of the professional footballer is worth 90% today, because everyone is very fit and very talented.

"The difference is in the mental side of things."

The Senegal international signed for Liverpool for £5m after impressing during the national team's run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2002.

He has since had spells with Portsmouth, Birmingham and Stoke City, whom he joined on a permanent basis at the end of 2007.

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