El Hadji Diouf, Senegalese international, whose countrymen and women are still grateful for the stellar role he played during the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, said: “I am not a bad guy.”
During his football career, El Hadji Diouf developed a reputation as a bad boy of football. Now retired, the former Senegalese international tells BBC Sport's Stanley Kwenda why he believes this was unfair.
El Hadji Diouf is a hero in Senegal. Everywhere he goes he immediately surrounded by fans both young and old. But in England, he is remembered more for his controversial antics than for his football talent.
Diouf was aggressive, spat at opponents and confronted match officials as well as opponents, according to the BBC.
It is a trait that followed him in the English league clubs he played for - from Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers to Bolton Wanderers, with a spell for Rangers in Scotland as well.
But now in his retirement, he is telling his story.
"I am a lion, I am a bad loser, and it's not wrong to be a bad loser," says Diouf of his often combative mood during his playing days.
"I have got character, and I want people to respect me."
Diouf, who has now permanently moved back to the Senegalese capital Dakar, says he often misunderstood during his playing days in England.
"I am an easy target. It's easy to talk about El Hadji Diouf, and I let them talk, but I know in my heart I am a good guy. My family know, my population knows, my continent knows I am a good person and that's the best thing. The rest is not my problem."
Despite this defense, Diouf admits he has done some bad things.
When asked why, for example, he used to spit at opponents, he says: "Maybe they used to tell me something I didn't want to hear. I did that, I paid, and now it's finished."