DONCASTER’s playmaker El-Hadji Diouf is happy being one of football’s bad boys.
In fact, being bad makes him want to play better!
Diouf tormented title-chasing West Ham on Saturday as Rovers bravely battled back from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw.
And with 12 games remaining in the Championship season, which includes tonight’s home clash with Reading, the Senegal striker is backing Rovers to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.
It’s four matches unbeaten now for Dean Saunders’ improving side who sit four points adrift of safety and have two games on hands on fellow strugglers Coventry City and Bristol City, who are both just above them in the current standings.
“I’m a footballer and I love the pressure,” said Diouf. “I can play because I know the fans are going to boo me and the more they boo me the more determined I am to play well. That is the only thing I know how to do.
“But what I say is I’m a footballer. I can turn the fans around and make them love me like what they did when I played for Bolton. I’ve done that with the fans at every club I’ve played in.”
Diouf had a trial with the Hammers earlier in the season, but his former manager Sam Allardyce decided not to sign him.
But there are no hard feelings between the pair with Allardyce impressing at Upton Park and Diouf shining at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“He knows I’m going to try my best and play my football and they are going to try and stop me, but when I decide to play I don’t think anyone can stop me,” added Diouf.
“I would have loved to work with Sam again, definitely. He is one of the best managers I have seen in my life and he is a great man.
“But I’m happy at Doncaster and want to see the team stay in this league. We can do it [avoid relegation].”
Winger James Coppinger combined well with Diouf to bag Rovers’ weekend equaliser - and he’s been impressed by the impact the former Liverpool, Bolton, Blackburn and Sunderland hitman has made since joining the club.
“He’s [Diouf] in great form,” said Coppinger. “It’s always difficult for someone like him to fit in because he’s a different breed to us.
“But credit to him because he’s fitted in really well and it’s working for everyone.
“He’s a very flamboyant player and person - and that’s not going to change now because he’s 31 and happy where he is.
“He’s had an influence on us and I’d like to think we’ve had an influence on him. It’s working for both parties.
“You can see in training he’s listening to what we’ve told him, which is great.
“He’s willing us to win, we can’t ask or anymore. He’s doing well and long may that continue.”