Former Liverpool forward reacts to Gerrard criticism by accusing former team-mate of racism.

Steven Gerrard has been called a racist by former Liverpool teammate, El Hadji Diouf, who was responding to being criticised in the former England captain’s autobiography.

Diouf and Gerrard played together at Anfield between 2002 and 2005, with Diouf a controversial, divisive figure during his first spell in English football. Arguably his most notorious moment came during a Uefa Cup tie in 2003 when he was banned for two matches and fined two weeks’ wages for spitting at a Celtic supporter.

This reputation as a troublemaker followed him around during his time in England, prompting Gerrard to say of his former team-mate: “I don’t really want to waste time thinking about El Hadji Diouf but it’s worth highlighting his wasted seasons at Liverpool as an example of how it can all go wrong.

“It seemed to me that Diouf had no real interest in football and that he cared nothing about Liverpool. For example, the way he spat a huge globule of gunky phlegm at a Celtic fan in a Uefa Cup match at Parkhead in March 2003 summed up his contemptuous and spiteful demeanour.

“A few people have since asked me if I saw any comparison between Diouf and Mario Balotelli – and I’ve always said no. I’ve got respect for Balotelli; I’ve got none for Diouf.”

The criticism has not gone down well with the former Senegalese international. Diouf has accused the midfielder of having “never liked black people” and suggested Gerrard is jealous of his status.

“Everybody could see how [Gerrard] made life difficult for Mario Balotelli at Liverpool. I warned him beforehand,” he said. “Liverpool is not a club that welcomes black players, unless they are English—but if they are not they don’t stand a chance.

“It is common knowledge that Gerrard has never liked blacks. When I was at Liverpool I showed him that I was black, I wasn’t English, and I wasn’t going to take any nonsense. He never dared look me in the eye all the time I was at the club.

“Gerrard is just jealous. What I have done in football, he did not. When I came to Liverpool, I came up with the status of boss and he lives there. I am respected in world football, the greatest football experts have appointed me among the seven best players in the World Cup, the top 100 players of the century. Several big players do not belong. Everywhere I go out of my country, they worship me. [Gerrard], wherever he goes outside his city of Liverpool, will be insulted.”