SPL news

Lennon plays down Diouf row

February 4, 2011
By ESPN staff

Rangers' controversial deadline-day signing El-Hadji Diouf has received support from an unlikely source: Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

El-Hadji Diouf's arrival in Scotland has provoked quite a storm
GettyImagesEl-Hadji Diouf's arrival in Scotland has provoked quite a storm

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Diouf is one of the most controversial players in British football and his move from Blackburn to Ibrox on deadline day provoked inevitable comments regarding his on- and off-field troubles.

The Senegal forward is a figure of hate for many at Parkhead following an incident where he spat at a Celtic fan during a UEFA Cup tie during his Liverpool days in 2003, an act which saw him fined £5,000 at a Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Having made his Gers debut in the 1-0 win over Hearts in midweek, things will step up a gear for Diouf on Sunday when Rangers entertain Celtic in the Old Firm derby. The visiting Celtic fans are sure to single out Diouf for special treatment, but Bhoys manager Neil Lennon feels the time has come to draw a line under past events.

"Like all people, we do things we regret and he probably looks back on things like that and regrets it," Lennon said. "It's best for me to leave things unsaid."

It is clear that Lennon will not be taking the threat of Diouf lightly. He said: "I think it sometimes gets lost a little bit that he's a good player. Liverpool paid £11 million for him when he first came to England. He has played in the Premiership ever since then, so it might be a shrewd bit of business on Rangers' part.

"As regards the off-the-field stuff and the on-the-field stuff, I really can't comment on that. I know he was well thought of by the staff at Blackburn, because I know them personally. They thought he was a good team-mate and a good guy to have around the place."