Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has denied racism claims reportedly made by former team-mate El-Hadji Diouf.
In an interview with a Senegalese radio station, Diouf reportedly alleged that the long-time Anfield talisman “never liked blacks” and made life difficult for Italy international Mario Balotelli during his ill-fated spell on Merseyside last season.
Diouf also blamed the 35-year-old, now plying his trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy, of costing the Reds the Barclays Premier League title two seasons ago and England their continued presence at the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Lawyers for Gerrard have strongly refuted the claims on their client’s behalf.
Diouf’s claims came in a interview with Radios Futurs Medias, reported by its parent company IGFM on its website.
The 34-year-old former Senegal forward reportedly said: “Gerrard is just jealous. What I’ve achieved in football, he hasn’t done it. When I came to Liverpool, I came with the status of being the boss, and he was in that position.
“I’m respected in the world of football. The greatest football experts designated me among the seven best players at a World Cup, among the best 100 players of the century – there are many great players who haven’t been in that.
“Everywhere I go, away from my country, I am worshipped, and for him, everywhere he goes outside of Liverpool, he will be insulted. It’s he who eliminated England from the last World Cup. If Liverpool didn’t win the Premier League, it’s his fault.
“We’ve all seen how he made life difficult for Mario Balotelli at Liverpool. I warned him.
“It’s well known, Gerrard has never liked blacks. In all the time I spent there, he never dared to look me in the eyes.”
Another former Liverpool forward, Ryan Babel, rejected the claims reportedly made by Diouf.
Babel said on Twitter, after being alerted to the comments: “i did not got that feeling from Steve G so i think he got it wrong.”