Playing for Blyth Spartans in the sixth tier of English football, having had failed trials at Football League clubs Port Vale, Gillingham and Bournemouth, Ali Dia was determined to one day live the Premier League dream.
But instead of training harder and improving his fitness and technique, in 1996 Dia got a friend (who had several contacts in football) to ring up Southampton manager Graeme Souness, pretending to be FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah, persuading the Saints boss to sign up this Senegalese star named Ali Dia.
Dia was subsequently invited to train with Southampton, and pretended he was a Senegal international, earning 13 caps for his country, and having just scored for his country two days prior to linking up with Southampton for training, when in fact his best footballing career achievement at that point was having made one substitute appearance for lowly Blyth Spartans.
He didn't impress in training, with many players commenting on how lazy he was in training and the fact "he didn't look very good". Souness put this down to the fact he was acclimatising to life and football in England, and so wanted to test him out in a reserve match against Arsenal.
However, that match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, and due to severe injury problems in the first-team, Souness decided to gamble on him a few days later by putting him on the bench for a Premier League match against Leeds United.
And when Matt Le Tissier came off injured after 32 minutes, Ali Dia was given his taste of Premier League football.
53 minutes later, Dia himself was substituted, as his chronic lack of fitness and skill was embarrassingly evident.
As Le Tissier later said: "It was unbelievable. He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice; it was very, very embarrassing to watch."
Two weeks later, Dia's contract with Southampton was terminated, and the player went on to play eight more games in football, for non-league side Gateshead.
After that, he graduated with a degree in Business Studies from Northumbria University.
It wasn't technically an in-league transfer, but the signing of Ali Dia was without doubt the most shocking Premier League transfer of all-time.