Toumani Diagouraga is a quiet, humble man.

Off the pitch, the man lovingly known as “Dave” during his days in Brentford is a polite figure who keeps himself to himself. A hectic movement occasionally indicates that he is uncomfortable with the possession.

Internally, that couldn’t be further from the truth and with an often exquisite touch or laser guided pass, he has the ability to turn defense into attack in the blink of an eye.

At 33 he has the experience to support these favorable qualities – actually over 450 appearances in the championship, the first and the second division.

Everything is rosy now that he is practicing his profession in Morecambe. But the Frenchman had to walk a rocky road to get to that point.

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After a six-year stay in Brentford ended in 2016, he played 20 games for Leeds. This was followed by a loan stay in Ipswich before he spent a short time at Plymouth Argyle and Fleetwood in the 2017/18 season. In July 2018, he signed a two-year deal with Swindon and after missing much of his first campaign at County Ground due to injury, things started to turn.

After relegation to the second division, at the time Richie Wellens kept Diagouraga away from the first-team image earlier last season, Robin’s manager kept the midfielder for just two games in the Papa John’s Trophy three months apart.

“It was very frustrating because I think a lot of things weren’t for football reasons,” he told Sky Sports.

The 33-year-old arrived at Mazuma Stadium in January 2020 after his Swindon contract was amicably terminated

“I was asked to go to another club in the summer, which I refused. From then on everything went really wrong. But I know that this is how football works. Some managers will like you, some not really.” to take to you, but you always have to believe in yourself and I have always supported myself.

“As a footballer, you just want to play regular football. After a tough first part of the season, I just wanted to play football one more time and just enjoy it.”

Then an opportunity arose in Morecambe.

In any other case, the decision to leave a team at the top of the league to join a fight for their life on the other end would be a mystery, but it was about more than football – and Diagouraga sensed that something special was brewing.

He has made 42 appearances in all competitions for the shrimp this season
He has made 42 appearances in all competitions for the shrimp this season

On January 2nd last year, his Swindon contract was terminated amicably and his arrival at Mazuma Stadium was confirmed. This sealed a reunion with manager Derek Adams, under whom he had played during his time in Plymouth.

“I’ve worked with the manager before and I knew we weren’t going to go under last year,” he continues.

“Last season, with the kind of players we signed, I actually said to our captain [Sam Lavelle] that we would be in the top 7 this year with the manager and know-how we had on our team. I knew we had a good chance.

“He [Adams] deserves a lot of recognition. He is a good man manager and I have a lot of time and respect for him. I don’t think any other manager would have brought Morecambe to the play-off final. He knows how to win and he’s a winner. He’s promoted Ross County and Plymouth so he knows how to get results and promotions. “

It speaks volumes that Diagouraga has played 42 games in all competitions under Adams this season. This is the highest value he has achieved for a club since the 2014/15 season.

“It shows that I’m settled and have a manager who has confidence in me,” he says frankly. “When you have that, it gives you a new life.

“I know I’ll do well if I play football regularly. So it’s about focusing on myself. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come here and enjoy playing football again.”

It is perhaps evidence of his experience that Diagouraga’s words have proven prophetic over the past year.

Morecambe versus Tranmere


Sky Bet League Two semi-final second leg highlights between Morecambe and Tranmere

Not only did Morecambe maintain their status as an EFL club when the second division table was decided on points per game, but they also finished fourth that season with a chance to automatically advance through the last day of the regular season.

It shouldn’t be the end, as Cheltenham, Cambridge and Bolton put them in the top three, which meant Adams’ men were forced to settle for a place in the play-offs where they beat Tranmere 3-2 defeated Aggregate in the semi-finals in preparation for Monday’s play-off final against Newport.

“After missing the top three, we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves the best opportunity to get promoted and now we’re only 90 minutes away,” he says.

“Tranmere made it extremely difficult, especially with them. We had to take a lot of pressure and stick to the schedule, but when we won there I was pretty confident that we would do the job at home.”

“It was very nice to have the fans back in the stadium. The energy helped us and when we were under pressure it helped us to get over the finish line.”

“That was the story of our season. Nothing was easy and we had to work for every single point we got and we had to dig deep every time. It’s just become the norm for us. We know every game is going to be difficult and we know that we have to dig deep to get results. “

Since he failed twice in the play-offs with Brentford and suffered two defeats at Wembley during his time with the Bees, this is not new territory for Diagouraga.

“In the 2011 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final, I was sent off and we lost – I won’t forget that. A few years later we were so close to taking the automatic spots and we missed a penalty in the last game against Doncaster Minute of the season, then going to the final against Yeovil and losing was heartbreaking.

Diagouraga lost twice in the play-offs with Brentford, but was also part of the team that was promoted to the championship in 2014

“In 2015 we lost to Middlesbrough in the championship play-off semi-finals. This season they were our bogey team. We always played very well against them, but they were well organized and met in the counterattack that worked . ” during the season and in the play-offs.

“I remember the first leg, it was 1-1 and we were at the top. They picked up a striker, picked up a defender and he scored a 90th-minute winner from a set piece. I lost twice and I hope to do it happily for the third time. “

As haunting as these memories are, Diagouraga is aware that he can use them as a force for good.

“For the players who have never been to Wembley, I can let them know what to expect because sometimes you can come and play the occasion, not the game.”

“It’s important to let people know that if we do our best and play the way we play, we won’t regret it in the end. As a player my age, I feel it is my duty to share that experience.” .

“For a club that has never been in the premier league, I think it would be a tremendous achievement for everyone who is associated with the club. If I could fire them there, it would be my career highlights, especially after the last few years. ” where I haven’t played that much. It would be incredible to actually do it this year. “