“it could easily have been three hat-tricks in three games” – Dion Dublin
Dion Dublin, speaking exclusively to 888Sport (with questions posed by MOMS), discusses his memories of playing for Villa, from that terrible FA Cup final, his most memorable goals and who was the best player he played with at Villa.
Most memorable goals for Villa?
I’ve got to say my very first goal on my debut, at the Holte End. I was one-on-one with the keeper and I put it away. I got away from the defence with my pace – no, I didn’t really as I had no pace – but I scored another that day too.
I scored three in my next game against Southampton and then another two v Liverpool. The strange thing is on my debut I scored a third but the linesman ruled it out. He said to me shortly after ‘I think I might have got that one wrong’.
Then against Liverpool I missed a penalty. So it could easily have been three hat-tricks in three games.
Can you explain Villa’s lacklustre performance in the 2000 FA Cup final?! And, in spite of the result, do you take any solace in playing in the last ever FA Cup final at the old Wembley?
No solace. We were crap and I’ve no idea why we were crap. We were possibly overly wound up by getting into a final thinking we had to win. Maybe it was a lack of quality on the day?
I’m going to speak for Chelsea and say they were rubbish as well. The final in general was so poor from two professional football teams to sign off from this wonderful stadium. On the other hand I can say I played in the last final.
It’s certainly not something I’m ever going to shout about though if people talk about FA Cup finals. I’m sad that we lost it but neither team really deserved to win. Every time I see Roberto Di Matteo I always give him stick about scoring a goal that deprived me of a cup winner’s medal like the one he already had.
The FA Cup was always massive for me and I still get a massive buzz now talking about it with Dan Walker and the rest of the troops for television. I’m very proud to have played in it and in a final.
Who was the best player that you played with in your time at Aston Villa, and why?
That’s a hard, unfair question! I’m going to put it into categories. Paul Merson is the best one-footed player ever. His left foot was rubbish but he didn’t need it because he had the outside of his right foot. With his vision too nobody could make a pass with the outside of his boot like Paul Merson.
As for David Ginola, I still don’t know if he was right footed or left footed.
As regards captains, Gareth Southgate was incredible and his partnership with Ugo Ehiogu was one of the strongest I’ve played in front of.
Georgie Boateng was fearless while Ian Taylor had more energy than I’ve ever seen in my life.
For unpredictability there was Darius Vassell. It was a very strong squad of players with loads of captains – you didn’t need an armband at Villa – and I was very fortunate to play with them.
You spent several years playing with Gareth Barry, did you think he would go on to achieve everything he has? Just how good was he?
I knew that Gareth would be successful. His left foot was a wand and when he was younger he played left-back, right-back and centre-half. He always wanted to get on the ball and never, ever panicked. His quality was always there and coming through he played with Jlloyd Samuel, Hendrie, Crouchy, Darius Vassell; all those players were from the same sort of school and they were all very good.
Gareth Barry is one of the best players I’ve ever played with. He was always dedicated and seems to choose the right option all of the time. It doesn’t surprise me one iota that he’s still playing.
“We were crap and I’ve no idea why we were crap” – Dublin on the 2000 FA Cup final
How do the Aston Villa side you played in compare to the current crop?
I spent five very happy years at Villa and I played with some of the best players in the world. I played with Gareth Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu – god rest his soul – Paul Merson, David Ginola, Stan Collymore, Ian Taylor – we had a great side.
This side now doesn’t compare to ours. Nowhere near. Whether that comes across as rude or arrogant I don’t know. The team I played in was much better than this team now and I don’t think there’s any player playing now who would have any qualms about admitting that if they’re honest.