IT’S been a few years since the cry of “Who’s Ya Dadi?” was heard at Prenton Park, but for anyone wondering where’s the Dadi, the man has turned up Down Under.
Nomadic French striker Eugene Dadi, whose reputation at Tranmere went beyond his 28 goals in 86 games, is now playing in Australia’s A-League with Perth Glory.
As Perth notched their first win of the season last weekend, it was leading marksman Dadi who scored the only goal of the game against Wellington from the penalty spot.
The 35-year-old, whose four goals in five games have given him national exposure in Australia’s ever-growing soccer circles, is determined to make the most of his latest adventure.
“Yes, I’m happy, three goals in three games, it’s good,” said Dadi, who joined Glory after a couple of years on the sidelines in Israel with Hapoel Acre.
“It’s good to be in Australia. I have been travelling since I was nine when I left the Ivory Coast to live with my dad in Paris, so it’s no problem coming here.”
Still sporting his trademark dreads, Ivory Coast international Dadi is now at his 11th club, having played in France, Austria, Scotland, England, Israel and now Australia.
But it is reflecting on his time on Merseyside that brings the widest smile to his face. “Yes, we had a great spirit at Tranmere,” he recalled. “I played with Iain Hume and that was great. He was a fantastic player who gave me some nice service.”
And when told supporters on Tranmere fans’ forums still remember him with affection Dadi was delighted. “Yeah? That’s nice.
“It was really difficult to leave because I’d had two great seasons there and I was ready for the third. But Brian Little, the manager, thought differently and suddenly the opportunity came along from Nottingham Forest and I jumped at it because they are a massive club.
“But would I liked to have stayed at Tranmere? Yes, it was great with the fans. I had a good time there, it was difficult for me to leave. It’s not always about football. I met some great people, like the physio Les Parry, he’s unbelievable. But there were so many.
“And I enjoyed the lifestyle. I lived by the Albert Dock and from there I could meet other footballers, like Joseph Yobo and Thomas Gravesen and Steven Finnan, they were all neighbours so it was nice to get in the lift and talk about football.”
Dadi can get his fix of Scouse at Perth in the shape of 25-year-old Huyton striker James Robinson, who was given his chance like so many others under Dario Gradi at Crewe. In fact the club has had a few links with Merseyside in the past few years, with Duncan Ferguson sounded out last year about an unlikely move and Steve McMahon brought in as head coach for a few months in 2005.
Dadi’s time at Forest was unsuccessful due to a series of hamstring injuries which meant he played only six games before a switch to Notts County, a move he admits was the “wrong choice”. Then he found his way to Hapoel.
“It was a good lifestyle in Israel, it wasn’t what you see in the media about bombings and such things, but the opportunity for football wasn’t that great,” he said.
“The problem was the standard of football, it was a different mentality. I had been in the UK for six years so I was used to everything being right, the management, the way we play, the structure. Small details make a big difference.”
Now in Australia with his jazz singer wife Joana and 22-month-old son Paco, Dadi is out to cut a dash in Perth, where he and Parisian Joana are about to bring over the fashion label they started up while at Tranmere.
On the field, he has settled right into the A-League, which is largely a mix of youngsters still dreaming of a break in one of the big European leagues, those for whom the chance is passed and old pros who have been there and done it. On a good day the standard is comparable to the lower reaches of the Championship but more often than not is of a level similar to League One or Two.
Certainly Dadi couldn’t have made a better start in his new surroundings, scoring goals and quickly forging a promising partnership with veteran midfielder Amaral – who boasts 35 caps for Brazil and played for Fiorentina, Benfica and Besiktas.
Unfortunately, Glory were conceding at a faster rate than Dadi could bang them in and they went four games before posting last weekend's victory.
And how long will he carry on playing? Dadi said: “I’ll just keep going while I enjoy it. After Notts County I thought I would stop, but I missed football so I came back.”