Salif Diao has launched a stinging criticism on former club Liverpool over the manner in which he was welcomed into the first-team fold back in 2002.
The retired footballer joined the Reds alongside Senegalese team-mate El Hadji Diouf when Gerard Houllier was in charge at Anfield, but the former midfielder claims that Diouf, himself and even Harry Kewell were not correctly integrated into the senior squad by his new club mates.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Diao insisted that none of Liverpool’s senior stars at the time had any idea of how to accommodate new players into the club, and pointed towards Chelsea as a club that made sure its new arrivals were made to feel like part of the furniture just days after completing their own moves to Stamford Bridge.
He said: “They didn’t understand the importance of making other players welcome into the club – not the club itself but some of the players at the club made me feel unwelcome.
“When we came in, we never really felt welcomed by some players that were already there, the leaders of the club at the time.
“It’s not only me – I think it was also Harry Kewell and so many other players who came into Liverpool at the time – they never had that sense of being welcomed.
Salif Diao saying he felt unwelcome when he joined Liverpool, he plays in the legends games when he’s far from one
— Jonny (@AStrokeOfGinius) June 2, 2017
“When Didier Drogba went to Chelsea, I think in the first week, he was having dinner at Frank Lampard and John Terry’s house, so these are true leaders.
“If players came to Chelsea they made sure during the first week they look after them, invite them to their houses just to show them that they are really welcome. If you compare that to Liverpool, it’s two different worlds.”
Diao made just 57 appearances during his during his two-and-a-half year spell with Liverpool, before he enjoyed loan spells at Birmingham and Portsmouth ahead of a 2006 free transfer switch to Stoke.
The 40-year-old went on to add that he felt criticism from Reds legend Steven Gerrard in his autobiography was also uncalled for, and launched a fierce barb at the ex-midfield star for commenting on Diao’s perceived inability to play in the Premier League.
He said:”I have nothing against him but I think writing books and criticising your ex-teammates is really low. Who is he to say this player has a standard for Liverpool and that player doesn’t have the standard for Liverpool?
“I am very happy and proud to have played for Liverpool and I always gave 100 percent. Today the best reward I get is that everywhere I go in the world Liverpool fans say: thank you Salif for what you did for the club.”
Read more from Tom Power by following him on Twitter!