Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Capello, Mourinho, Jol ... They All Play Good Football

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Capello, Mourinho, Jol ... They All Play Good Football

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

[bar] T was just after lunchtime at Fulham's Motspur Park training ground and a cavalcade of Range Rovers and Porsches was whisking players away from their morning exertions. Yet Mahamadou Diarra was still in the gym, sweating over his fitness, desperate to prove he has something to offer English football. It speaks volumes for the character and resolve of the latest recruit to Martin Jol's quiet revolution at Fulham that Diarra accepts his career CV, one of the most glittering in European football, is not sufficient on it's own to earn a place in the team to play Swansea at Craven Cottage tomorrow.

Diarra won four successive French titles with Lyon and four French Super Cup winners' medals, and then there were two La Liga titles and victories in the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey for Real Madrid, not to mention his 74 caps for Mali.

Tall, strong and imposing, he honed his talent as a defensive midfielder under the tutorage of coaching masters Paul Le Guen, Gerard Houllier, Fabio Capello -- who was such a fan of the player that he persuaded Real Madrid to pay Lyon [pounds sterling]22million for his services in 2006 -- Bernd Schuster, Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho.

And Diarra smiles as he rolls off an A-list of some of the playing talent with whom he has shared turf: Michael Essien, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Raul, Fabio Cannavaro and David Beckham.

"I have to be honest, it was easy to play with them," he said. "You pass them a s**t ball but they could bring it down, control it and turn it into a good ball.

"Beckham? I enjoyed playing with him at Real. I don't know if all English players are like him, because he was the first English player I worked with, he worked very hard. He was a really good professional.

"I also worked with a lot of good coaches. …

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