How we told the story of football's biggest mystery.

Evangeline Robinson
Marketing Manager
30th April 2024

53 Minutes is the completely unbelievable - and completely true - story of football’s biggest mystery: Ali Dia.

“Ali Dia has long been a bit of an urban legend for football fans - most of us have heard the name, or the chants, but the reality behind his story is often entirely misunderstood at best. Ali fascinated me because he’s as much a name in football as he was 25 years ago. The idea for 53 Minutes came from really wanting to get to the truth of this story that has yet to be told in full.” - Aidan Judd, Series Producer.

Through this six episode miniseries, we tell the story of Ali Dia, while exploring the reality of what was going on in the football scene in the 90s, unearthing the exceptional circumstances that allowed a below average footballer to find his way onto football’s most elite stage, the Premier League.

The show landed at #1 in the Sports charts on Apple Podcast and Spotify, as well as in the Top 5 Podcasts overall. Since launch, 53 Minutes has been featured by Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, The Guardian and many others.

Football’s biggest mystery, as told by those who were there

How do you track down someone that disappeared from the public eye 28 years ago? By finding and speaking to everyone that was there and involved at the time.

We began by plotting out the central figures to this bizarre moment in football history, including 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 and Mady Touré who is the CEO of Generation Foot.

Securing Graham Souness' participation, despite his previous reluctance to discuss Ali's famous kick-about, marked a significant moment in the show, and for the team behind it.

That wasn’t enough and we needed to get closer to Ali, which we did by speaking to those who knew - and played - with him. Until we finally tracked him down…but you’ll have to listen to hear what Ali had to say.

Hosted by comedy legends…

Award-winning comedian Josh Widdicombe and Mock The Week's Dara Ó Briain bring their hilarious chemistry to this addictive story. Their genuine interest in unveiling the details of what happened makes this narrative a must-listen for both comedy lovers and sports history fans alike.

Josh Widdicombe said “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.”

Binge the full series of 53 Minutes, out now.

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