Thursday, 30 August 2012
Diouf prefers Leeds to Premiership Clubs
Diouf signed non-contract terms at Leeds earlier this month and after impressing with a series of assured appearances, both the 31-year-old and the Championship club are keen to agree permanent terms.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sport360, Diouf said: “I hope I’m always enjoying playing football and people see that. Right now, it’s like the first time I started. Football is my life. God gave me good luck to play football and to make people happy so that’s what I want to do.”
A troubled past, though, has not always endeared Diouf to the public, rival players or managers. Current boss Neil Warnock referred to him as a “sewer rat” after allegedly showering Jamie Mackie with abuse in January, 2011, after a challenge left the QPR forward with a broken leg.
But, in recognition of the player’s undoubted ability, Warnock put personal impressions and the past aside when he surprisingly moved for Diouf – who had spells at Bolton, Sunderland, Blackburn, Rangers and Doncaster after leaving Anfield in 2005 – to bolster his Leeds attack.
It was a signing that left the Elland Road support perturbed as many recalled the Mackie incident, unsavoury past tales of him spitting at players and fans, and his involvement in a tunnel bust-up last season when he played for Doncaster against Leeds.
Warnock even joked: “It’ll take the pressure off me as well because [the fans will] have a go at him, not me!”
But Diouf won over many doubters following a confident and classy cameo in his side’s 1-0 opening-day win in the Championship over Wolves. The Leeds crowd rose to give him a standing ovation as earlier jeers turned to cheers. He threw his shirt into the Kop end and then affectionately embraced Warnock, who praised his attitude on and off the pitch.
“People say and think things, but they don’t know me,” adds Diouf, who knows he will have to remain a reformed character to appease his critics.
“Neil believes in me and gives me confidence. What happened is in the past. I just need to play my football and help the young lads we have got and help the team win games.
“In my life I only love one thing in football, the challenge. I had it at other clubs, Liverpool, Rangers, and leagues and now Leeds.
“To play for Leeds is a big challenge. We have 25,000-30,000 fans for home games and who doesn’t want to play for a big club like this with all the history?
“I prefer to play for Leeds than go to a Premier League club and have to play not to go down. It’s more exciting here and to help them achieve something special.
“This season we will try to get promotion to the top and make the fans happy. That’s what everyone wants, the manager, the players, the fans. And I want to let my football do the talking for me.”