It’s the holy grail of Saints sig­na­tures, a col­lec­tor’s item from the man dubbed the worst Pre­mier League play­er of all time. 

Saints fans Steve and Michael Mor­ri­son, the father and son who have amassed the world’s largest col­lec­tion of more than 7,000 Southamp­ton FC sig­na­tures, have told how they came by the auto­graph of Ali Dia, the infa­mous play­er who made one sub­sti­tute appear­ance last­ing less than an hour. 

it comes as a new pod­cast series ’53 min­utes’ takes a deep dive into how he tricked Graeme Souness into play­ing him in the top flight.

Daily Echo: Ali Dia's signature

READ MORE: The shrine to Southamp­ton FC inside a home in Perth, Aus­tralia

Comics Josh Wid­di­combe and Dara Ó Bri­ain speak to the for­mer man­ag­er, ex play­ers and reporters who recall their mem­o­ries from the time. 

The addi­tion of Dia’s sig­na­ture came about ten years ago for the Mor­risons, from High­field, and it was all thanks to the Dai­ly Echo. 

They explained how they were search­ing for the auto­graph of Dia, along with the club’s new sign­ing at the time Dani Osval­do and the late 50s man­ag­er George Roughton in an arti­cle. 

Daily Echo:

Steve, 56, said: “Dani Osval­do was easy enough to get, though as it turned out, his stay at Saints was bare­ly longer than Ali Dia’s! George Roughton was fun, at auc­tion we out­bid an Amer­i­can oil mag­nate who was liv­ing in Ari­zona, he was real­ly angry about it!

“And so to Ali Dia. Your cov­er­age was read by a father and son who went to that game against Leeds on 23rd Novem­ber 1996.

“The young lad had col­lect­ed all the auto­graphs of the team that played that day, includ­ing Ali Dia.

“When they saw the arti­cle and read what we were try­ing to achieve the lad was real­ly keen to help us.”

Tom Brit­tain, a Saints fan from Sur­rey just hap­pened to be out­side The Dell that day when Dia walked into the sta­di­um. The sig­na­ture was dis­played on a page along­side those of Richard Dry­den, Dave Beas­ant and Eyal Berkovic, who all played in the same sea­son. 

The Mor­risons epic col­lec­tion is still going strong. They con­tin­ue to be up to date with every first team play­er since the war, with some pre-war includ­ing George Carter who made his Saints debut in 1887.

They remain on the hunt for any war time or pre-war sig­na­tures and await any new debu­tants dur­ing the run-in.