June 19, 2021

Sabah FA’s Azzizan Nordin remembers Senegal, World Cup star El-Hadji Diouf fondly

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In November 2014, the Rhinos shocked many when they signed former Senegal and World Cup star El-Hadji Diouf.

East Malaysian side Sabah have been promoted to the Super League side this season, but when they were in the second tier, a big name had unexpectedly turned up for them at one point.

In November 2014, the Rhinos shocked many when they signed former Senegal and World Cup star El-Hadji Diouf. Although this stint would end on an acrimonious note not long after, one current Sabah player only remembers the African star fondly.

Midfielder Azzizan Nordin recalled Diouf as a kind and helpful senior player, in an interview with the Malaysian Football League (MFL).

Azzizan Nordin. Photo from Sabah

“The boys and I thought it was a joke at first; but we couldn’t believe our eyes when we finally saw him in training.

“Diouf was amazing in every way; especially his ball receiving and delivery. The way he was able to keep possession was special and world class, because he had played in the World Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

“He once taught me that as a midfielder, I should scan for my teammates’ positions to know my options before receiving the ball, and not after. It wasn’t just me; the other younger Sabah players also received tips from him, and he was generous with his advice,” said the 26-year old Malaysia international.

The Senegalese forward arrived in Kota Kinabalu ahead of the 2015 season, towards the end of his storied career which involved achieving instant fame in the 2002 World Cup.