Everton manager told me to leave after 45 minutes - he took my shirt number and banned me

Oumar Niasse signs autographs for fans on arrival at the stadium prior to the FA Cup quarter-final between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on March 12, 2016
Oumar Niasse signs autographs for fans on arrival at the stadium prior to the FA Cup quarter-final between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on March 12, 2016 -Credit:Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Many happy returns to Oumar Niasse but as the former Everton striker celebrates his 34th birthday, those wishing to buy him a present should probably avoid getting him a locker!

With two points deductions this season for Profit and Sustainability Rules breaches the Blues are currently counting the cost of profligacy under Farhad Moshiri. However, it was Niasse, a £13.5million buy from Lokomotiv Moscow on the final day of the 2016 winter transfer window, who proved to be their last major buy before the Monaco-based businessman’s takeover of the club.

Paraded on the Goodison Park pitch for the first time ahead of a 3-0 stroll against Newcastle United in which Ross Barkley bagged a brace of late penalties – the second of which was a cheeky ‘Panenka’ effort in stoppage time – the Senegalese international could have been forgiven for thinking that glory days might lie ahead.

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However, after just 152 minutes of action in his first season at Everton, Niasse saw Roberto Martinez, the manager who brought him to Merseyside, sacked and replaced by the far more abrasive Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman was typically blunt as he did not allocate the player a squad number for the new campaign, remarked “If Niasse likes to play football he needs to leave Everton,” and even took away the then 26-year-old’s personal locker as he was demoted to the Under-23s squad.

Koeman decided he didn’t fancy Niasse after he played in the second half of his first game in charge, a 1-0 friendly win over Czech side Jablonec. Recalling the incident when interviewed by the Guardian, Niasse said: “Koeman told me: ‘You have to leave’.

“I couldn’t understand how that decision could have been made after 45 minutes but I just said: ‘Okay, thank you’. It’s his decision.

“He’s the manager. What can I do? I called my agent and he said he would look into the opportunities for me.

“To be honest, I didn’t ask Koeman to explain his reasons. I just thought, even if I asked why, I would never understand. After just 45 minutes, you cannot say to me: ‘You are no good’.

“He changed everything. He took my shirt number and he told me I wasn’t allowed to be in the dressing room for the first team; that I wasn’t going to train with them. I had to go with the second team.

“I said: ‘Okay, no problem’. When you say you don’t need a player, you don’t have to see him. I’ve just kept working in training. Even if I’m training with the under-23s, I give them the respect.”

As for the infamous locker incident, Niasse added: “It’s sad, it’s really sad. And, to be honest, I think I don’t deserve this but what I can do is just keep my head and fight to change things. I’m not going to make a drama over this. I just deal with it. I know it’s just one period.”

Oumar Niasse celebrates scoring against Bournemouth -Credit:Mark Robinson/Getty Images
Oumar Niasse celebrates scoring against Bournemouth -Credit:Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Loaned out to struggling Hull City the following January, where he netted four goals in 17 Premier League games under future Blues boss Marco Silva – breaking his duck against Liverpool – but failing to keep the Tigers up, Niasse was back at Goodison Park for the start of the 2017/18 season. Although he was omitted from Everton’s Europa League squad, Koeman named him in his Premier League squad and having got off the mark three days earlier as a substitute against Sunderland in a Carabao Cup tie, Niasse bagged his first brace of top-flight goals for the club when coming off the bench again in a 2-1 comeback win over Bournemouth.

While those results eased the pressure on Koeman, who had lost the previous four matches, the three points against the Cherries proved to be his last victory as he was sacked a month later with Everton in the relegation zone after a 5-2 home reversal to Arsenal, another fixture that Niasse would score in. Indeed he hit the net nine times that term with further goals in a 3-2 comeback triumph over Watford and 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace under caretaker boss David Unsworth – a game after which he became the first Premier League player to be charge with “successful deception of a match official” after winning a penalty as Everton’s appeal was rejected and Niasse was given a two-match ban.

Another loan spell at Cardiff City followed in 2018/19 but he failed to hit the net in 13 Premier League matches and after leaving Everton in the summer of 2020 when his contract expired, Niasse’s only subsequent action in the professional game came with a 12-match spell at League One Burton Albion in 2021/22 where he netted three times.

Last September it emerged that Niasse was among a group of former pros who were paying a fiver a week to play a low-key but fiercely-competitive game in south Manchester, where he was joined by another former Everton player Joleon Lescott, plus the likes of Ravel Morrison, Antonio Valencia, John O’Shea, Stephen Ireland, Papiss Cisse, Danny Drinkwater and Danny Simpson. Still younger than current Everton first teamers Ashley Young (38) and Seamus Coleman (35), Niasse made an eye-catching comeback to organised football on November 23 last year when he signed for seventh-tier Macclesfield.

Despite scoring a hat-trick on his debut for the club where Robbie Savage is a director, in a 4-2 Cheshire Senior Cup second round win at home to Tranmere Rovers, Niasse failed to find the net in six subsequent league games and was released by the Silkmen late in January after making just a couple of Northern Premier League starts.