Senegal head into the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with one of the most talented squads as it includes the likes of Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye and Moussa Wague but one powerful midfielder will be missing from the team.
The Teranga Lions will have to make do without former Newcastle United star, Mohamed Diame, as the powerful 32-year-old midfielder called it quits on the international stage in 2017, two months after Senegal fell to eventual winners, Cameroon during the quarter-final stage of AFCON 2017.
Born on this day in 1987 and previously eligible to feature for France by birth, the energetic midfield player made 31 appearances for the Teranga Lions.
Despite his retirement from the national team, you would be amazed to know some facts about the Senegalese footballer.
1. Number of appearances in AFCON finals
Even though Diame won 31 caps over six years for Senegal, it is incredible to find out he only made one appearance at the AFCON finals, playing all 90 minutes in the Teranga Lions’ final group match against Algeria during the 2017 edition held in Gabon.
That match ended in a 2-2 draw and earned Senegal top spot with seven points in Group B, a point ahead of Tunisia as the West Africans set up a quarter-final showdown with Cameroon which ended goalless after extra-time before the Indomitable Lions prevailed 5-4 on penalties as Senegal’s star forward, Sadio Mane, missed his country’s fifth kick to give Cameroon victory.
2. His major milestones with Senegal came in the month of March
Diame coincidentally has a thing with the month of March when it comes with the Senegal national team as he was first called up to the team in March 2011 and went on to make his debut for the Teranga Lions later that month in a AFCON 2012 qualifying match against Cameroon which ended 1-0 in Senegal’s favour.
The midfielder did not score a goal for the national team until March 2016, exactly five years to the day he made his debut, when he netted the opening goal in a 2-0 AFCON 2017 qualification series win at home to Niger Republic.
3. National team captaincy
It may seem Diame is not an important figure in the Senegal national team having featured just once at the AFCON finals but as it turns out, he was highly regarded as he captained the team 11 times with his first time wearing the armband for his country coming in November 2012 in a friendly against Niger Republic.
He also captained Senegal in matches against Guinea (friendly), twice against Angola as well as against Liberia and Ivory Coast during the 2014 World Cup qualification series. Diame also wore the armband in other against Mali and Burkina Faso in friendlies, and twice against Tunisia in AFCON 2015 qualifiers.
Diame captained Senegal one last time in the return leg of the Teranga Lions’ 2017 AFCON qualifier against Niger.
4. Hull City promotion hero
The midfielder was the hero when Hull City gained promotion to the Premier League in 2016 after he scored the winning goal in the 71st minute as the Tigers beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Wembley in the 2016 Championship Play-off final.
5. Newcastle United game changer
Just as he helped Hull to gain promotion to the Premier League in 2016, Diame was back at it a year later with another club as he made 37 appearances for Newcastle United on the club’s way to winning the Championship ahead of Brighton & Hove-Albion in the 2016/17 season.
However, Diame is searching for a new team after he was released by the Magpies at the end of the 2018/19 season after he made 29 appearances for the club in the Premier League as Rafa Benitez’s side finished in 13th place with 45 points.
Will Diame be missed by Senegal at the 2019 AFCON? Tell us what you think while sending your birthday wishes to the Senegalese star in the comments section.