The Life & Times of Paul Dickov: never a dull moment

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With ten international caps and a goal for Scotland, Paul Dickov has proved himself on multiple stages. Even Thierry Henry, no less, once nominated him as one of his role models. More than 400 league appearances and 101 goals in three different divisions has shown the striker to be a worthy member of many sides.

The Scot came through the youth ranks at Arsenal, making his debut in March 1993 and finding the net against Tottenham and Crystal Palace before the season’s end. Incidentally, his goal against Palace saved Oldham from relegation.

Dickov, despite winning a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup medal in 1994, failed to secure a regular starting berth at Highbury. Loan periods at Luton and Brighton followed before he departed in 1996.

It was on the blue half of the Manchester where Dickov made his name. His six-year stay saw him attain legendary status at Maine Road. When he joined City for £1m, they found themselves in Division One and the club slipped further with relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time.

City’s dramatic escape from Division Two cemented Dickov’s place into Maine Road folklore. The 1998-99 play-off final against Gillingham saw Joe Royle’s men two goals down and City fans leaving the stadium. City grabbed a supposed consolation and fans arrived back to see the defining moment of Dickov’s career. He unleashing a right-footed equaliser into the roof of the net in the final minute of injury-time. City eventually won 3-1 on penalties - with Dickov missing - to complete a remarkable comeback.

Dickov remained an integral part of the team as City yo-yoed between the Premier League and Division One in 2001 and 2002. Despite a modest goal-scoring record, Dickov endeared himself to the Blues’ faithful with his tireless, tenacious style until he departed for Leicester City in the winter of 2002.

The £150,000 signing could not save the Midlands side from relegation that season as the Scot contributed four goals. He fired Leicester to promotion a year later with 20 goals; making it the best season of his career. He also managed 13 goals in the Foxes’ top flight return, but could not save the club from relegation; making it the eighth consecutive season in which Dickov had experienced either relegation or promotion.

This was to end in the 2004-05 season as Dickov joined Premier League Blackburn Rovers for a nominal fee. Dickov was mainly a bit-part player, and scored 14 goals in 50 games before returning to Manchester City.

Dickov’s second spell with the Citizens was dogged by injury problems. The second year of his contract was spent mostly out on-loan with Crystal Palace and Blackpool. He was particularly prolific with the Tangerines; grabbing six goals in 11 appearances and scooping the PFA's Fans Championship Player of the Month for February.

Leicester City brought Dickov back to the club at the end of the year. He played a role in their promotion from League One, but couldn’t maintain a place in his second season. Spells at Derby County and Leeds United followed to take him to the end of the 2009-10 season.

It was a shock move to Oldham that followed as player-manager. Despite interest from multiple MLS clubs, Dickov opted for Boundary Park. The Scot has long-held ambitions to move into management. Former Citizens’ striker partner Shaun Goater had tipped him to make the step up four years earlier.

With a playing career already spanning 17 years and still on-going, Dickov will be looking to match that total as a manager.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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Paul Dickov
League One
Oldham Athletic

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