ROAD safety campaigners have slammed Blackburn Rovers footballer El Hadji Diouf after it emerged he has been driving without a valid UK licence for seven years.

Diouf, 29, was last week banned from driving for six months after admitting a number of motoring offences, including speeding.

But now it has emerged that the winger, who is well known for his collection of garish luxury cars, has not held a valid UK driving licence for the past seven years.

Linda Sanderson, communications manager for Lancashire Road Safety Partnership, slammed Diouf's 'totally irresponsible behaviour'.

She said: "These high profile footballers should be setting a good example.

"We've been into the club to give speed awareness courses to the young players. The older players are their role models as well as other young men.

"With any employee, the organisation has a duty of care. Blackburn Rovers do a lot of good work in the community and this one player is undermining it.

Terry and Ann Hannon, from Blackburn, campaigned in memory of their 22-year-old son Matthew, who died in a smash in Livesey Branch Road, in 2006.

They spearheaded the Lancashire Telegraph's Wasted Lives campaign which sought to cut the carnage of young drivers on our roads.

Mr Hannon condemned Diouf's motoring record and said: "When you get in cars like he drives, you've got to be extra careful. And he has been speeding as well, silly lad.

"We've all been young lads, but unfortunately I've seen the consequences of what happened to Matt and it makes you think.

"As a Blackburn Rovers player, he's supposed to be a role model, but he's not much of one if he's not driving safely."

During the court hearing, which the Premier League footballer did not attend, his solicitor said Diouf believed a letter from the Senegal Embassy which said he held a diplomatic passport and international licence allowed him to drive in the UK.

However, Tameside magistrates were told he was only allowed to use the documents for 12 months and after that should have contacted the DVLA to switch to a full UK licence.

It means Diouf, of Stokesby Gardens, Bolton, who moved to the UK in 2002, has been on the roads illegally for seven years. He will now have to take a UK driving test.

Jo Abbott, spokesperson for the RAC Foundation said: "The RAC Foundation wishes El-Hadji Diouf the best of luck for his driving test and hopes that other drivers who do not have the correct qualifications for driving will have the courage to update their skills and get a full driving licence."

According to the DVLA all foreign residents and visitors can use a driving licence from their home country for 12 months.

David Chance, representing Diouf, said police had accepted this letter for eight years without problem.

He said it was not something Diouf had 'knowingly done' and he 'genuinely believed' he was okay to drive.

The Rovers forward was sentenced for three separate matters. Last July he was clocked speeding at 38mph on a 30mph road in Chorley New Road, Bolton. Two months later he was stopped by police in a white Porsche Cayenne in Altrincham Road, Wythenshawe.

He failed to produce documents seven days later following the routine check and was charged with having no licence, failing to provide his licence and failing to produce his insurance certificate.

He incurred the driving ban on the penalty points totting up procedure.

Diouf was also fined a total of £810 and ordered to pay £105 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.