El-Hadji Diouf has reignited his war of words with Steven Gerrard on the day that the former Liverpool and England captain announced his retirement from football, with the retired Senegal striker embarking on a bizarre rant on French TV and arguing with former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit.
Diouf, who has been incredibly vocal and bitter in his criticism of Gerrard while he was at Anfield, claimed the 36-year-old was “nothing at all” when he arrived at the club in 2002, and also hit out at their former teammate Jamie Carragher.
Diouf remains the only Liverpool No 9 in the club’s history to go the entire season without scoring a goal, but he claimed that Gerrard “was afraid of looking into my eyes” and added that while he respected him as a player, he does not like him as a person.
People told me at Liverpool, there was some guys you could not touch, but I touched them. That is why it was complicated for me,” Diouf said on French TV channel SFR Sport.
“When I arrived I showed him he was nothing at all. He was nothing at all.
“I asked him to tell me in which big competition, Euros or World Cup, people think about him.”
World Cup winner Petit, who was sitting alongside Diouf, interjected at this point to ask if he was talking specifically about Gerrard, to with Diouf replied: “I do. Stevie G and Jamie Carragher, the two scousers.”
Petit attempted to defend Gerrard by noting the 2005 Champions League final, in which he inspired an amazing turnaround that saw Liverpool draw level with AC Milan after trailing 3-0 at half-time in Istanbul before triumphing on penalties. But when Petit couldn’t remember which year it was, Diouf continued his verbal attack.
“Here is the proof, even you cannot remember,” he said.
“You are talking about Euros and World Cup. Today I owe you respect [Petit], I owe respect to Mr Zidane because you did win the World Cup.”
Petit again interrupted, adding: “I cannot let you say that about Steven Gerrard, he was an immense player.”
Diouf explained that while he respected Gerrard for his performances on the pitch, he disliked him for the man he was off it. Gerrard and Diouf clashed soon after the Senegalese left Liverpool in 2004 when he was playing for Blackburn Rovers, and the former England skipper also spoke about Diouf in his 2015 autobiography in which he said he did believed Diouf “did not care about football and about Liverpool”.
Diouf said: “I repeat. I respect the player, very big player, but the man, I do not respect. And I told him, I let him know that.
“With all my respect I let him know. For me in Liverpool, he was not just a player like anyone else. He had to work and play his football as I had to work and play my football.
“Then as you know, there were some brown-nosers, who went to the manager to repeat what I said. That was the real problem. When Gerrard did that, we had an argument, like real men.
“That is why he does not like me. He knows I say what I think, that when it is not right, no problem, I am up for it.
“He could not, he was afraid of looking into my eyes. He was afraid of talking to me. Let's not forget when I arrived I did not ask for his shirt. He asked for my Senegal shirt for one of his mates.”