Ali Dia, football's famous fraudster. / SUR

Who knows?


Way back in 1996, after a bizarre series of events including a recommendation by somebody claiming to be George Weah, the then world footballer of the year, a Sunday League player named Ali Dia managed to make a first team substitute appearance for English premiership club Southampton. He was so bad - running around 'like Bambi on ice' according to teammate Matthew Le Tissier - he was substituted himself fifty-three minutes later, much to the chagrin of manager Graeme Souness.

Occasionally, my mind will turn to Ali Dia and his absurd antics if I'm witness to a self-proclaimed expert rambling on about a subject that he quite clearly knows as little about as we do.

The Covid pandemic was fertile ground for these chaps. We had virus experts, breathing experts, long Covid experts, short Covid experts, not to mention experts on its effect on the economy, our mental health and whether door knobs constituted a serious death threat.

After thirty seconds of listening to most of them, it was quite clear that they had about as much ability in their chosen field as Ali Dia in the penalty box.

Only this morning, I heard somebody reading heat studies at The Back Of Beyond Polytechnic or somewhere, advising listeners to drink water and sit in the shade while the weather's hot. Thank you, my friend - if it hadn't been for your sage intervention, we'd all have been lathering ourselves with olive oil, leaping around beneath an unforgiving three o'clock sun and eating handfuls of dry crackers.

Not long after this chap, somebody who investigates fainting at university (are my taxes paying for these people?) told us that the best way to avoid collapsing in a heap at any given moment is to not stand up for too long, avoid stressful situations, eat enough food and drink some water. Well, I never.

Just for fun, I'm tempted to present myself at a local radio station and proclaim that I'm an expert on any old random subject - say, seventeenth century door hinges - then read up a bit about them on Wikipedia or somewhere equally unreliable and to see how long I can bluff my way through an interview before being unceremoniously turfed out to the sound of strangers yelling 'Imposter!' at me.

The scary thing is, I've a feeling I could beat Ali Dia's fifty-three minutes.