It’s been a difficult summer on the transfer front for Jim Bentley, but the capture of Tony Diagne has been seen as a shrewd move by the Morecambe boss. Adam Lord spoke to the giant French defender.
The path from north-west of Paris to Morecambe is not a well trodden one.
But it is one Tony Diagne has taken, via Nottingham and Macclesfield, to become the Shrimps’ first ever French player.
And the giant 22-year-old says that he has been delighted by his welcome since signing a two-year deal to move from Moss Rose last week.
“Every one has been really good, even the fans on Twitter,” he said.
“Jim Bentley was really interested in me which is nice, and one of the reasons I decided to come.
“I’m really pleased to have joined, I’m really looking forward to it.”
As well as being pleased the interest shown in him by the Shrimps boss the softly-spoken defender has been impressed with visits to the Globe Arena in the past and will be moving to the area.
“I’ve played at Morecambe in the past and the new ground is really nice,” he said.
“The players I’ve played against were really good as well.
“I’m going to come up soon and have a look around. I’m hoping to live not that far from the ground.”
Diagne admits the lure of a return to the Football League was also too good to turn down despite the Silkmen offering him a new contract and Lincoln City, where he finished the season on loan last year, showing an interest in keeping him at Sincil Bank.
“Macclesfield tried to keep me and Lincoln were interested in taking me for another year,” he said.
“But it’s good to be back in the league. I’ve had one year in non-league and that was enough. I wanted to come back up.”
Diagne played nearly 80 games for the Greater Manchester side before rejoining former boss Gary Simpson at the Imps in their bid to beat the drop last season.
But his career in England began after being spotted by Nottingham Forest scouts in his homeland.
“I was playing under 16s in France and a scout from Forest came to see our game and I played well,” he said.
“I went to train for a week, did well and signed.”
It was a transition that was far from easy for a 16-year-old from Aubergenville who’d never been away from home.
“It was difficult,” he admitted.
“It was the first time I’d been away from my parents and I was in a different country.
“I was on my own so it was really hard.”
Diagne settled but left Forest after three years without playing a first-team game under Colin Calderwood or Billy Davies as the two-time European Champions strived for a return to the Premier League.
He said: “There were looking to get back to the Premier League.
“I was training with the first-team but they weren’t trying out the younger players so I went back to France.”
The versatile defender returned home to play for local side Aubervilliers in the amateur Championnat in France meaning when the call came from Macclesfield, he was exited by the chance to go full-time again.
“It (Macclesfield) was a really good experience,” he said.
“I was back in France and then I came over for a trial in the January (2011) and it was good to play professionally.
“We obviously went down but it was good overall.”
The experience means Diagne, who although versatile feels he plays best in the centre of defence, is realistic about what the Shrimps should be aiming for this season.
He said: “We’ll see how the team is looking when we return for training (next week) but looking to go for the play-offs would be nice.
“But we have to stay in League 2 at least.”