Salif Diao - Midfielder
Feature by Dan Buxton
Updated Saturday, 16th July 2011
Signed: December 2007
Games this season: 5/5
Goals this season: 0
Total club games: 79/23
Total club goals: 1
One of the stars of the FIFA 2002 World Cup, a tournament that earnt him a £4.5m move to Liverpool.
Started brightly at Anfield but injuries and a change in management stalled his career and he was left out to the extent he was given the squad number 83 and failed to make the sixteen for three years, becoming the forgotten man.
That stayed the case until Stoke came to his rescue in October 2006 and he joined on an initial three month loan.
Instantly set his stall out and helped Stoke on a magnificent run that took them from the bottom three to top ten in a matter of weeks.
At this point he was one of, if not the, best midfielders in the Championship .
Returned to Liverpool at Christmas as his loan expired but turned down several Spanish sides to return to the Potters on six month contract.
Manager Tony Pulis insisted renewing Diao's contract was one of the main aims of the summer as he builds a side hopeful of promotion but Diao's reluctance to commit whilst recovering from injury saw his deal remain on ice until December when he signed and after a couple of weeks reclaimed his place in the team.
Struggled for form and an injury ended his season just as he was getting back into his stride.
Has his own academy in his native Senegal that he funds himself, allowing under privileged kids develop there footballing talents where they wouldn't be able to otherwise.
Was a regular at the start of the 2009/10 season before injury struck, although he returned from injury to play the final 2 games. Many thought that may have been to allow a proper goodbye to a player who was pivotal in getting the ball rolling in TP's second spell in charge but Diao returned for another 12 months and was used as a bit part player but did provide one of the best 'mentals' of the season when he slid home the Potters 94th minute winner away at Portsmouth, his only goal for Stoke.
In the summer of 2010 he was offered a player/ambassador role by the club but left after insisting he still had three years left in him before he turned his attentions from purely playing. Diao then returned on deadline day declaring how his heart is in Stoke and penned a two year player/ambassador role.
Made 11 appearances during the 2010/11 campaign, mostly during the second half of the season and now seems to finally have a full pre-season in him which could see him involved more, especially with the Potters added European adventure.