53 Minutes: a new football podcast featuring Josh Widdicombe and Dara Ó Briain

23 March 2024, 11:58

53 Minutes: Kicking Off 19th March
53 Minutes: Kicking Off 19th March. Picture: Radio X

The award-winning comedians explore the Greatest Mystery In Football History with a brand new podcast - listen now on Global Player.

Radio X

By Radio X

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Exploring The Greatest Mystery In Football History Hosted By Dara Ó Briain And Josh Widdicombe - listen on Global Player

Award-winning comedians Josh Widdicombe and Mock The Week‘s Dara Ó Briain host a six-part podcast exploring the phenomenon of Ali Dia’s overnight rise to the Premier League – for 53 minutes.

53 Minutes is a new podcast hosted by the acclaimed comedians, which will explore the exceptional circumstances that allowed a below average, amateur football player to hustle his way onto football’s most elite stage – the Premier League.

Ali Dia: Football's Biggest Mystery | 53 Minutes - Watch The Trailer Now!

In each episode, Dara and Josh will be joined by those who remember the singular game that shocked the footballing world to its core and which still to this day, begs the question of just how this could have happened.

Josh Widdicombe co-hosts the new podcast
Josh Widdicombe co-hosts the new podcast. Picture: Alamy

53 Minutes takes the audience back in time, to an era when Gianfranco Zola, Eric Cantona and Alan Shearer were at the top of their football game and were joined by none other than Ali Dia – for 53 minutes only. Whether he’s guilty of a con, a hustle, or simply of being the recipient of a lucky break, Dara and Josh will explore the reality behind the myth that has surrounded Ali Dia’s name for the past quarter-century.

In November 1996, Graeme Souness, then manager of Southampton, reportedly received a phone call from a man claiming to be the best player in the world – George Weah. George explained that his ‘cousin’, Ali, was also a talented football player, and asked whether Souness would consider taking him on as a trialist. The club was in the middle of an injury crisis, and the prospect of signing a player related to someone of Weah’s calibre was just too good to pass up. Graeme said yes.

In reality, Ali Dia wasn’t related to George Weah, and it wasn’t even George who made the call. Following Ali’s disastrous substitute performance against Leeds on the 23rd November 1996 – in which he was brought on to replace the injured Matt Le Tissier and then subbed off after only 53 minutes – he moved on. He spent some time in Gateshead and Spennymoor, before disappearing altogether. And we’ve finally found him.

Guests joining to give their take on whether Ali Dia was a hoaxer or a hustler include footballers Matt Le Tissier, Ken Monkou, Francis Benali, Paul Thompson, Peter Harrison and Simo Valakari as well as football journalists Ed Aarons, Frank Simon, Amy Lawrence, Graham Nickless, John Gibson, Graham Hiley, Steve Menary, Kelly Naqi and former football agent Winston Makamure, Southampton club historian Duncan Holley, Mady Touré who is the CEO of Generation Foot and of course, Graeme Souness – the manager of Southampton FC at the time.

Dara Ó Briain co-hosts the new podcast 53 minutes
Dara Ó Briain co-hosts the new podcast 53 minutes. Picture: Alamy

Josh Widdicombe said today: "It is an honour to be asked to host this podcast on the greatest mystery of the greatest decade in the history of football. Like any football fan with their priorities right I see the story of Ali Dia as the sacred text of the sport and so I hope we can do it justice. Also, what a joy to be working with Dara and not have him ask me for some unlikely things you’d see in an action film."

Dara Ó Briain added: "I jumped at the chance to finally get the truth about the legend that is Ali Dia, even though that might involve asking Graham Souness a question and getting a hard stare back."

53 minutes will be released weekly on Global Player and all other major podcast platforms from 19th Match.

53 Minutes is a Global Original podcast, produced by Global and Listen, in partnership with Dentsu Entertainment.

Latest On Radio X

Steve Jobs launches the iTunes Store with some prophetic words

The worst decisions and predictions in the history of rock

David Bowie, Brian May and Axl Rose at the Freddie Mercury

Who played the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992?

The biggest festival of all time:  Donauinselfest DIF 2015

This is the biggest music festival of all time

Classic albums from the year of 1975: Wish You Were Here, Venus & Mars, Physical Graffiti, Young Americans and A Nigh At The Opera.

The 25 best Classic Rock albums of 1975

Some of the key albums of 1981: Kraftwerk, New Order, The Human League, Depeche Mode, OMD.

The 25 best albums of 1981

Glastonbury Festival's Pyramid Stage in 2023

Glastonbury 2024 April ticket resales: Everything you need to know