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WATCH: Racist chants just spur me on to score: Wolves star Nouha Dicko reveals experience of vile abuse from stands

Walsall | News | Published:

Wolves star Nouha Dicko has told how racism in football simply spurs him on to score goals.

Dicko has experienced racism first hand while on the pitch, but says the bigots only motivate him to improve his game.

He spoke exclusively to Pete Madeley:

Racism has long been a scourge on the beautiful game.

While black players such as John Barnes, Mark Walters and Laurie Cunningham have lit up our stadiums, they did so at times against a backdrop of vile race hatred spewed forth from the terraces.

On other occasions the abuse came from their fellow players.

Although incidents of racist abuse are not as commonplace as they were in the 1970s and 80s, the issue continues to be a problem.

Wolves star Nouha Dicko has first-hand experience of dealing with bigots hurling abuse from the stands.

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Like some of the game's top players have done in the past, he says he is prepared to walk off the pitch if the abuse is not dealt with.

But the 23-year-old prefers to handle racism by letting his football do the talking. "It is the type of thing that is going to motivate me to do well," he says.

"Different players have different ways of dealing with racism. For me the answer is to score."

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In April 2012, Dicko, then 19, had only been in England for around seven months when he came face to face with the worst episode of racist abuse he has suffered in his career.

The Blackpool side he was on loan at were away at Millwall in a crucial game that would secure the club's place in the Championship play-offs.

"It was an important game," Dicko recalled. "I don't know why but the Millwall fans were making monkey chants and monkey gestures.

"It didn't affect me badly because this is the kind of thing that motivates me. I wanted to say to them 'don't do this' because this is the type of thing that is going to motivate me to do well.

"After it happened I scored. These things don't really affect me because I think these people are just stupid.

"Even on the pitch sometimes players say things but they don't really mean it. And with football fans it can happen as well.

"I'm not excusing what they do, but that's my way of dealing with it."

A number of high-profile players have been driven to more extreme measures after being subjected to racist abuse.

In 2006, Samuel Eto'o threatened to walk off the pitch after he was subjected to monkey chants during his Barcelona side's 2-0 victory at Real Zaragoza.

He started to march off the pitch and was only persuaded to carry on playing when players from both sides and his manager Frank Rijkaard intervened.

In 2013, abuse from the stands prompted Kevin-Prince Boateng, then of AC Milan, to leave the pitch in a friendly match.

Both occasions involved experienced professionals who became victims of racist chanting and abuse while they were at work. Dicko says he understands their reactions and would consider walking off the field himself if the abuse got out of hand.

"With Samuel Eto'o he is a high-profile player so people want to get at him," he said, speaking after an event at Molineux organised by Show Racism the Red Card.

"Maybe some fans are scared because he plays on a bigger team. Maybe he was just really annoyed.

"It must not have been the first time it had happened. If these things keep going on and it is not dealt with then you start to think you have to do something.

"For me it is not something I have dealt with a lot. If it was going on then it is something (leaving the pitch) that I would consider."

In March 2014 - just three months after signing a permanent deal with Wolves - Dicko played in a Black Country derby at Banks's Stadium.

Tensions ran high in the pressure cooker atmosphere and after the game Carl Ikeme alleged he was racially abused by a small group of Walsall fans.

Walsall were later cleared of any wrongdoing by the FA, but it is a game that Dicko remembers well. On the half hour mark he was confronted on the pitch by a furious fan after celebrating a strike in front of Walsall supporters.

"It was a local derby and as a player you can kind of expect these kind of things when the tension is high," he said.

"You can expect it to happen, but you don't really understand it. At the end of the day it's just a football game.

"I remember I scored and I celebrated. Maybe the way I celebrated pushed the person to come on the pitch and come at me, even though he shouldn't have.

"Even though sometimes when you play football you hear the fans say things and so when you score maybe you think maybe I will go and celebrate in front of them.

"It's just like a game inside of the game and it shouldn't go as far as this with someone coming onto the pitch and trying to confront you.

For Dicko, a Mali international who grew up in France, racism is not simply a football problem. It is a far wider issue than that. And he's quick to point out that the problems are far worse in other countries.

"It's not just in England it's everywhere in the world," he said.

"I think in France or in England or wherever you go people have worked towards changing things. If you go to some countries, like in Eastern Europe these things happen a lot.

"I think this is because maybe they aren't used to seeing African people, seeing their culture.

"It is ignorance. In England there are more and more African people. Not just African people, Chinese people, Indian people.

"Everyone has learnt to live together, to know each other. That's why racism has gone down really."

"If some people think it's only a football problem they are wrong.

"Sometimes people like to put all of the problems on football, on fans and players. It's a society problem that needs to be sorted out from a young age for it not to be passed on to the future.

"Hopefully in the future we will see less and less racism."

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