El Hadji Diouf was born 15th January 1981 in Dakar, Senegal. After spending his youth career in France, Diouf made his professional debut for Ligue 1 side Football Club Sochaux-Montbéliard in 1998. Sochaux's relegation to Ligue 2 meant Diouf moved on to fellow French side Rennes.
After only one season with Rennes, Diouf moved again, this time to Ligue 1 side RC Lens. It would be with Lens where Diouf would start to earn a positive reputation for himself. In his first season with Lens, Diouf scored 8 goals in 28 games. In his second, Diouf managed 10 goals in 26 games, as Lens finished 2nd to Lyon by 2 points.
Diouf would then be part of the Senegal team that took the 2002 World Cup by storm.
Starting with a 1-0 win over defending champions France, where Diouf was given man of the match, Senegal reached the Quarter-Finals, losing 1-0 after extra time to Turkey.
Diouf's performance at the World Cup attracted the attention of many of Europe's big teams, and it was Liverpool who signed Diouf, for a fee of £10 million.
At the time, Diouf was seen as the player to push Liverpool to the Premier League title, after the Red's finished 2nd the season before. In hindsight, Gerard Houllier has said he would have rather kept another former Wanderer, Nicholas Anelka, instead of signing Diouf (click here to read that story).
Diouf won praises for his early games for Liverpool, including his first game at Anfield, where he scored two goals in a 3–0 win against Southampton on the 24th August 2002.
Liverpool fans had to wait until March 2003 for Diouf's next goal in the league for Liverpool. That occurred in a 2–0 win against Bolton Wanderers, in a game where he scored once and provided the assist for the second. The next game saw Diouf play in a UEFA Cup match against Celtic at Parkhead which finished 1–1. The game marked a watershed in his career when, in the 87th minute, he spat at a Celtic fan, causing crowd disturbances and Diouf to be interviewed by the police.
Houllier told him "The stigma of what you did will follow you round for the rest of your career. You'll never live it down". He received a two match ban and was fined two weeks wages with Liverpool making a donation of £60,000 to a Glasgow charity of Celtic's choice.
Diouf failed to score for the remainder of the 2002–03 season or at all in the 2003–04 season which saw him pick up 13 yellow and one red card which came on 7 January 2004 when he was sent-off in a 1–0 away win against Chelsea for fouling Adrian Mutu. By then he had become unpopular due to both his attitude and his lack of goals.
Jamie Carragher later said of him:
"He has one of the worst strike rates of any forward in Liverpool history. He's the only no. 9 ever to go through a whole season without scoring, in fact he's probably the only no. 9 of any club to do that. He was always the last one to get picked in training."
Well, Liverpool's hatred of Diouf turned out to be Bolton's gain. In the summer of 2004, El Hadji Diouf moved to Bolton Wanderers on a season long loan. After making his debut in a 2-2 draw against Manchester United, it didn't take long for Diouf to become a cult hero for Wanderers fans.
Whilst he was on loan at Bolton, Diouf was charged by the police for spitting at an 11-year-old Middlesbrough fan during a 1–1 draw in November 2004. Then, on the 27th November 2004, Diouf spat in the face of Portsmouth player Arjan de Zeeuw. He was fined two weeks' wages by Bolton and was banned for three games by the FA after pleading guilty to a charge of improper conduct. Bolton manager Sam Allardyce later revealed that he considered sending Diouf to see a sports psychologist.
Despite Diouf's controversial nature, Sam Allardyce's gamble on Diouf paid off massively. Everytime Diouf scored, Tony Christie's Amarillo echoed around the Reebok, with the Bolton faithful chanting ' Sha la la lala lalala, El Hadji Diouf will spit on you'.
Diouf also had a controversial moment against Blackburn Rovers, earning a penalty with a fantastic dive.
In Diouf''s debut season with Bolton, he scored the goal that confirmed the Trotters' place in Europe, coincidentally away at Portsmouth, in front of a toxic Fratton Park. In total in the 2004/2005 season, Diouf scored 9 goals in 32 games.
Diouf's form was enough for Bolton to make his move permanent, and in the summer of 2005, Diouf signed for a fee of £4.5 million, a then club record.
Diouf would go on to score Bolton's first ever goal in the UEFA cup, scoring the equalizing goal against Lokomotiv Plovdiv, before Jared Borgetti scored to seal a 2-1 win for Bolton. You can relive that game with my write up by clicking here.
For the following two seasons, Diouf was a key player as Bolton continued to defy the odds, finishing in the top 8 and qualifying for Europe again in 2007.
Diouf's last season, the 2007/2008 season, was a mixed bag. With Sam Allardyce gone, Bolton struggled in the league, although continued to surpass expectation in Europe. In 2008, Diouf scored against Atletico Madrid to send Bolton into the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. Diouf was also a key player in keeping Bolton in the Premier League, and scored in Bolton's 2-0 win over Sunderland, the win that confirmed Bolton's survival.
After four years at the Reebok stadium, Diouf stated his intention to leave, and joined Sunderland in 2008, for a fee of £2.5 million. In total for Bolton, Diouf scored 24 goals in 136 games.
In January 2009, after only six months at the Stadium of Light, Diouf joined Blackburn Rovers, linking up with former Bolton manager Sam Allardyce. Diouf would go on to play 62 times for Blackburn in two years, before signing for SPL side Rangers.
In his six months at Ibrox, Diouf scored 2 goals in 22 games, winning the SPL title and the Scottish League Cup.
In October 2011, Diouf failed a trial with West Ham United, with the Hammers fans hatred towards Diouf the reason behind a failed move. Subsequently, Diouf moved to Championship side Doncaster Rovers.
After Rovers' relegation, Diouf moved to Leeds United. In two years at Elland Road, Diouf made 45 appearances, scoring 6 goals.
Diouf has recently become a free agent after a year with Malaysian side Sabah FA. Also this year, Diouf accused Steven Gerrard of being a racist.