Diao playing for Stoke City in 2009
|Full name||Salif Alassane Diao|
|Date of birth||10 February 1977|
|Place of birth||Kédougou, Senegal|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive midfielder|
|1996–1997||→ SAS Épinal (loan)||2||(0)|
|2005||→ Birmingham City (loan)||2||(0)|
|2005–2006||→ Portsmouth (loan)||11||(0)|
|2006–2007||→ Stoke City (loan)||16||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Diao moved from Senegal to France when he was seventeen and started his career at Monaco with whom he helped with the Trophée des Champions and Division 1. He failed to hold down a regular place at Monaco and moved to Sedan in 2000. Diao then had an impressive 2002 World cup with Senegal which attracted the attention of several Premier League sides. It was Liverpool who won the race and signed Diao for £5 million in 2002.
His time at Liverpool was unsuccessful and was sent out on loan to Birmingham City, Portsmouth and Stoke City. He joined the latter Stoke permanently on a free transfer in 2007 and helped the club to promotion to the Premier League in 2008.
Diao was born in Kédougou, Tambacounda Region. He began his career in his native country before moving to France at the age of seventeen. He begin his professional career playing for Monaco in 1996 but did not feature for the club at all in the 1996–1997 season and was loaned out the Ligue 2 side SAS Épinal where he played 2 matches for the club. He returned to Monaco for the 1997–98 season where he 12 times in his second season at the club. he was also part of the AS Monaco side that won Division 1 in the 1999–2000 season. He also won a runner-up medal in the 2002 African Cup of Nations, where Senegal lost in extra time to Cameroon.
In 2001, he signed for Sedan Ardennes. He played 32 games in all competitions in his first season at Sedan Ardennes in the 2001–02 season including 3 matches in the UEFA Cup. He made his first start of the on 28 July 2001 in their 1–1 draw away at Bastia. He made 22 appearances for Sedan in his second season at the club with an extra 2 games in the UEFA Cup. His last game for Sedan came in their 1–1 draw with FC Lorient on 6 April 2002 before joining English club Liverpool.
He was signed by former Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier from French club CS Sedan Ardennes for £5 million (€7.5m) just before the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. He helped Senegal reach the quarter finals, most notably in scoring a memorable goal against Denmark in the first round, although he was subsequently red-carded.
At the club, he tended to be used out of position by Houllier, often played at centre back or full back and as a result never had the chance to demonstrate whether he was capable of playing a central midfield role for the club, although the evidence did suggest he was somewhat out of his depth. His first Liverpool goal came against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. He scored a total of three goals, only one coming in the league, in a 1–0 win at Leeds United in October 2002. He was left out of Liverpool's squad for the victorious 2003 Football League Cup Final despite playing often in the earlier rounds, including the semi-final first leg against Sheffield United.
Diao was played in his correct position by Rafa Benítez but several poor displays saw him displaced by Xabi Alonso notably after a 4–2 win at Fulham. Liverpool were 2–0 down when Diao was substituted, he had been at fault for one of the goals Fulham scored whilst attempting a bizarre back heel. Despite not having featured for months Diao was present in Istanbul when Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005. He appeared only once in the campaign, coming on as a substitute away at Olympiacos in the group stage. It was during the 2004–05 season that Diao scored his last Liverpool goal against Millwall in the League Cup, and he played his last game for Liverpool at Norwich City in January 2005.
In January 2005 Birmingham City took Diao, who had struggled to make Liverpool's first team, on loan for the rest of the season but he had his spell at Birmingham ended by injury almost immediately. The arrival of Rafael Benítez and defensive midfielder Mohamed Sissoko, signalled the end of his Liverpool career. Althougu Sissoko was branded the "new Vieira" by Benítez, Diao had received this same tag from Houllier upon his arrival at Liverpool.
Diao was not issued a squad number by Liverpool for the 2005–06 season, with his number 15 being given to new signing Peter Crouch. He joined Portsmouth in August 2005 on a season long loan but spent much of the season out injured. At the end of the season Pompey manager Harry Redknapp decided not to take up the option to sign him permanently because of his injury-proneness. In July 2006 Diao was taken on trial by Premiership side Charlton Athletic. He failed a medical at the club, thus ending his chances of signing.
On 10 October 2006 Diao joined Stoke City on loan. He made his debut for Stoke four days latter in a 4–0 win away at Leeds United. He has been a consistent player for Stoke, holding the team together, slowing down the tempo and speed of the game. It is thought that the revival of Stoke City during the 2006–07 season was in a large part due to Salif's hard-working performances. On 25 January 2007, his contract at Stoke was extended until the end of the season. At the end of the 2006–07 season Diao was released by Liverpool and was expected to sign for Stoke but did not sign a deal with the club because he was worried about his fitness levels.
He eventually signed permanently for Stoke on a one and a half-year deal in December 2007. Diao put in some decent performances for Stoke including games against former club Liverpool and man of the match performances against Chelsea and Sunderland. In June 2009 he was offered a new one-year contract to stay at the Britannia Stadium, which he accepted. He scored his first goal for the club in an away win at Portsmouth in February 2010. It was only Diao's second ever league goal and with his first coming six years before.
I didn't know he'd scored the goal until I got back in the dressing room. I couldn't believe it, I'll have to watch it on television to believe it.
Diao left Stoke after he rejected a new contract which would have given a joint role as a club ambassador and player. However Diao changed his mind and agreed to sign a new contract with Stoke. Diao cited his respect for the club and of Tony Pulis for his decision to re-sign. During the 2010–11 season Diao played eleven times for Stoke and was an unused substitute in the 2011 FA Cup Final. In the 2011–12 season Diao has been used sparingly by Pulis with Diao playing mostly in the UEFA Europa League and is set to leave the club at the end of the campaign after turning down a coaching role. He left Stoke at the end of the 2011–12 season.
Diao has appeared 39 times for Senegal, scoring four goals in the process since 2000, including a strike against Denmark at the 2002 FIFA World Cup after a series of quick passes by his team mates to set him up. He was later sent off in the same match was a high tackle. Diao was in the Senegal squad that went to the 2002 African Cup of Nations were Senegal finished second after losing in the final to Cameroon and was part of the Senegal side that went to the 2004 African Cup of Nations.
He was also in the side that reached the quarter finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and played games including their 1–0 win over then current champions France, as well as scoring in their 1–1 draw with Denmark before being sent off which meant he missed their next two games but returned for their quarter final exit to Turkey. He has also been involved in Senegal's qualification campaigns for the past three World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2010. After Senegal failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup Senegal fans went on a rampage, Diao, along with Stoke City team-mates Abdoulaye Faye and Ibrahima Sonko, were caught up in crowd trouble in Dakar.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Épinal (loan)||1996–97||Division 2||2||0||0||0||0||0||–||2||0|
|Sedan Ardennes||2000–01||Division 1||27||0||1||0||1||0||3||0||32||0|
|Birmingham City (loan)||2004–05||Premier League||2||0||0||0||0||0||–||2||0|
|Portsmouth (loan)||2005–06||Premier League||11||0||1||0||0||0||–||12||0|
|Senegal national team|
- Scores and results list Senegal's goal tally first.
|1.||4 February 2002||Stade Modibo Kéïta, Bamako, Mali||DR Congo||1–0||2–0||2002 Africa Cup of Nations|
|2.||7 February 2002||Stade Modibo Kéïta, Bamako, Mali||Nigeria||2–1||2–1 (a.e.t.)||2002 Africa Cup of Nations|
|3.||6 June 2002||Daegu World Cup Stadium, Daegu, South Korea||Denmark||1–1||1–1||2002 FIFA World Cup|
|4.||31 May 2003||Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor, Dakar, Senegal||Cape Verde||2–1||2–1||Friendly|
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- "Liverpool trounce Spartak". BBC. 2 October 2002. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
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- Edwards, John (31 August 2010). "'Tony Pulis is more than a manager to me': Salif Diao pens two-year deal to stay with Stoke". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- "An African presence in FA Cup final". CAF. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- "Diao to leave Stoke at end of season". The Sentinel. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- "FREE TRANSFER LIST 2011/12" (PDF). Premier League. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Diao recounts Senegal ordeal". BBC Sport. 15 October 2008.
- "About Salif Diao". sport4charity.org. 16 May 2011. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011.
- "Salif's Big Match". stokecityfc.com. 16 May 2011. Archived from the original on 26 September 2011.
- "Salif Diao". Soccerbase. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "Diao, Salif". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- "Salif Diao: African Legend of the Week". Goal. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2017.