Who could believe that one shot of a football can we worth £170 million? For Hull City, the dream of regaining their Premier League status straight away came a reality on Saturday. The next task: to regain that status.
But what do you need to gain Premier League survival. Is it top flight experience? Or is it to have a proven attacking threat? Believe it or not, arguably, the Tigers have it all in one man: Mohamed Diame.
Shoot takes a look at the Senegal international who will go down in the history of the Humberside club as the man who guided them back to paradise.
Where did it all start for Diame?
Diame was born in the small south-eastern Paris suburb of Cretil. As a youngster he adored the beautiful game as he watched his French heroes win the 1998 World Cup when the future Premier League midfielder had just turned 11. Two years later and he was selected to join the prestigious Clairefontaine academy which has seen players such as Nicolas Anelka and Oliver Giroud graduate since its formation 28 years ago.
Three years after joining the academy, he was ready to make the move into professional football when he joined RC Lens, at the time an amateur side, when Diame was just 16. Here he progressed through the ranks in the north of France and featured for the “B team” from the 2005-06 season.
However, from that point, things did not go to plan. The year of 2006 will be a year that Diame, in years to come, will not reflect on fondly as he was diagnosed with a heart condition which forced him to eventually leave Lens in 2007. It was a condition that would see giants such as Manchester United pull out of a move for the midfielder in years to come.
What happened after his recovery?
After a full recovery, Diame made the move to Spain in 2007 when he signed for Spanish side CD Linares – at the time a third tier side. Here he became a key figure for the now dissolved side, guiding them to a second-placed finish.
A year later and he was on the move again. This time it was a move to Madrid where he signed for Rayo Vallecano. It was during his time at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas where he made his mark on the professional game, with the then 20-year-old making 35 appearances to guide the Red Sashes to a mid-table position, after they had been promoted the year before. So far, so good.
How did he make the move to England?
While making his impact in Spain, Diame was attracting the attention of some of the world’s giants, including fellow Spanish sides Real Madrid and – at the time – the reigning Champions League winners, Barcelona.
But when Diame made the move away from Vallecano, it was not to the Nou Camp. In fact, it was to Wigan. After finally securing a move to Greater Manchester after a complex deal because of the doubts over the health of the midfielder, Diame made his debut for the Latics on the same day in a 5-0 defeat against Manchester United.
However, he became a fans’ favourite at the Premier League side, making 34 appearances in his first season, scoring his only goal in a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light in February of 2010. Coincidentally, his next goal also came against the Black Cats when he rifled home a strike from 30 yards in April 2011.
The following year was arguably his greatest season in a blue and white shirt, as he scored three goals including his first home goal for Roberto Martinez’s men.
How has he got to this point?
The summer of 2012 was a time of change for Diame. Despite being linked with the likes of Manchester United, Diame eventually made the move to newly-promoted West Ham, who had beaten Blackpool in the play-off final only weeks earlier.
Despite picking up injury early on in his time at Upton Park, Diame became an ever-present in the Hammers midfield with his partnership with captain Kevin Nolan being key in the Hammers’ top half finish in 2013.
But arguably his greatest season in a claret and blue shirt came the following year. Despite the Hammers finishing 13th, Diame was able to net four goals that season (including another one against Sunderland) and played in every round of the Capital One Cup in their run to the semi-finals at which they were defeated quite convincingly against eventual champions Manchester City.
However, after the signing of Cheikhou Kouyate in June 2014, it was clear that Diame’s time in east London was over. On Deadline Day, his next move was confirmed when he signed for Hull City. Here he featured on 12 occasions for the Tigers during the 2014-15 season, scoring four goals. However, those strikes were not enough for Steve Bruce’s men, who were relegated on the final day of the season thanks to defeat against Manchester United.
So it was into the unknown for Diame this season as he featured in the Championship for the first time. Not to worry, however, as he guided the Tigers to the play-offs with nine goals.
So how will he cope back in the Premier League?
They always say that, as a team, to remain in the Premier League it is key to have players who have the experience of competing at the top level. That is something that Hull do not lack. Alongside the likes of Jake Livermore, Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone, Diame has collated enough appearances in England’s top division to ensure that he can help guide the Tigers to safety next season. His goalscoring attributes, especially away from home, proves that he can also be an attacking threat.
Super Stat: Diame has now scored three goals in his last six games from midfield.