Sadio Mane has risked the wrath of Liverpool fans by posing alongside former Anfield bad boy El Hadji Diouf in a gym selfie posted on his Instagram account.
The Reds’ forward is currently on international duty with Senegal and uploaded the snap of him with his fellow countryman, both topless after a workout.
“With the best player in the history of our dear country,” Mane wrote.
But Liverpool fans will have different memories of Diouf from his ill-fated spell at the club from 2002-05 where he failed to live up to expectations and put several noses out of joint in the dressing room.
Club legends Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have been openly critical about their former teammate, and Mane’s picture has divided opinion among the Liverpool fanbase.
Ex- Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier opted against signing the impressive Nicolas Anelka to shell out £10million to land Diouf, who shined in the 2002 World Cup for Senegal prior to completing his move to Merseyside.
Despite scoring twice on his home debut, the two-time African Footballer of the Year only managed one more league goal for Liverpool in his two seasons, before he was loaned out to Bolton who eventually signed him permanently.
Carragher later slammed Diouf’s strike record, claiming he “was always the last to be picked in training.”
But it was more Diouf’s conduct off the pitch which caused controversy – particularly when he was banned for two matches after spitting at a Celtic fan during a UEFA Cup match.
Gerrard was certainly not a fan, previously suggesting the game got in the way of his social life.
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“It seemed to me that Diouf had no real interest in football and that he cared nothing about Liverpool,” Gerrard said in his Autobiography.
That was never more obvious than when Diouf woke up youth team defender Jon Otsemobor at 2am to host a party with his friends when both players had training the following day.
“I was still a young lad and I was just disappointed thinking he took my friendship and used it,” Otsemobor said.
Diouf’s attitude even caused him to almost come to blows with his captain during half-time of a pre-season match.
“There was a fight between Diouf and Gerrard. I was traumatised!” ex-Liverpool forward Florent-Sinama Pongolle once recalled. ““At half time, in the dressing room. Stevie G is all like ‘you have to pass, you have to pass’ and [Diouf] just loses it.
“They hated each other so much. Steven Gerrard arrives saying: ‘Hey, you f*****’.
“And [Diouf] couldn’t answer, so he grabs Gerard Houllier and says: ‘Tell him, f*** *** ***’.”
He is still a much-hated figure around Anfield – not helped by his admission he regretted signing for the club – but in his home country he is considered a hero, as he regularly donates to his local community and has even become a government goodwill ambassador.
“I am an easy target. It’s easy to talk about El Hadji Diouf and I let them talk but I know in my heart I am a good guy,” he has said in his defence. “My family know, my population knows, my continent knows I am a good guy and that’s the best thing. The rest is not my problem.”