Dion struggles to deal with emotion
Chris Lakey Dion Dublin has been around football a long time - but admits that the final days of his 20-year career are proving to be difficult. The 39-year-old became the oldest winner of City's most prestigious in-house award, the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy as Player of the Season, to rapturous applause before the game.
Dion Dublin has been around football a long time - but admits that the final days of his 20-year career are proving to be difficult.
The 39-year-old became the oldest winner of City's most prestigious in-house award, the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy as Player of the Season, to rapturous applause before the game.
His entrance off the bench with 12 minutes left had the crowd on its feet again, but it was the aftermath of City's vital victory over QPR, with business concluded, that the emotions of the man himself were evident.
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He struggled to find the words as he spoke to the local media, while radio interviews ended with Dublin's voice clearly faltering as he described his reaction to being the fans' number one this season.
The countdown is on to his grand finale, at Sheffield Wednesday next Sunday, and Dublin admitted it was already tough going.
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“It is - and I am trying to figure out how to deal with it,” he said. “It is quite hard because I'm not sure, I have never been in this situation before and it is ringing true that it's not going to happen again. I'm not going to walk over the white line. I have got one more chance to do that, and we shall see how I get on. It's going to be hard to walk away.”
Dublin admitted to having a tear in his eye when he walked on.
“It's difficult, but you have to be professional and know how to deal with them (emotions) and I think I've done all right,” he said. “It was hard. I would love to have started, loved to have scored, but it was not to be. It was difficult to take, but when the boss makes the decision you shut you mouth and get on with it.
“It was a special day for me individually, but it was a team thing. We needed three points to be safe and it wouldn't be the same feeling right now if we hadn't gone out and done a professional job and the boys did and it was thoroughly deserved.”
Dublin almost left his own, inimitable mark on his Carrow Road farewell with a magnificent effort from two yards inside his own half, which almost caught Lee Camp napping.
“It was nice - I caught it sweetly enough but obviously not hard enough,” he said.
It was the quality which earned him his pre-match honour - although Dublin admitted he would have looked elsewhere for the recipient.
“It means a lot,” he said. “A lot of players could have got it to be honest with you. I would have given it to Marshy (David Marshall) if it was my decision, but it's very nice to get votes from fans and finish off being player of the year so it means a lot to take it with me.”
Dublin's career has now reached full circle - having made his first tentative steps in City's reserves he returned in September, 2006 and while he leaves with fewer than 80 Norwich appearances to his name, he made an indelible mark on club history.
“To be wanted at 37 was great - to be wanted at 39 as well is even better,” he said. “The fans want me to stay, the players want me to stay - so they say to my face - and it is nice to be wanted. So I think it's a nice time to go out of the game still being wanted.”
Any chance of a change of heart?
“Absolutely not, my decision is final and I'm pleased with my decision.”
Manager Glenn Roeder saluted Dublin's professionalism - and said the fans had got it right.
“Of course they did,” he said. “It's a fitting tribute and we have been very lucky to have him because you have to have real enthusiasm for football to get out of bed every morning and play at 38, 39. I think his happiness, being the person he is, not being a selfish person, is that he leaves Norwich still in the Championship. He is a real team man, a club man and it has been an honour for me to manage him.”
t Norwich City 'Player of the Year 2008'
1. Dion Dublin
2. Darel Russell
3. David Marshall
t Barry Butler Trophy roll of honour:
1967 Terry Allcock, 1968 Hugh Curran, 1969 Ken Foggo, 1970 Duncan Forbes, 1971 Ken Foggo, 1972 Dave Stringer, 1973 Kevin Keelan, 1974 Kevin Keelan, 1975 Colin Suggett, 1976 Martin Peters, 1977 Martin Peters, 1978 John Ryan, 1979 Tony Powell, 1980 Kevin Bond, 1981 Joe Royle, 1982 Greg Downs, 1983 Dave Watson, 1984 Chris Woods, 1985 Steve Bruce, 1986 Kevin Drinkell, 1987 Kevin Drinkell, 1988 Bryan Gunn, 1989 Dale Gordon, 1990 Mark Bowen, 1991 Ian Culverhouse, 1992 Robert Fleck, 1993 Bryan Gunn, 1994 Chris Sutton, 1995 Jon Newsome, 1996 Spencer Prior, 1997 Darren Eadie, 1998 Matt Jackson, 1999 Iwan Roberts, 2000 Iwan Roberts, 2001 Andy Marshall, 2002 Gary Holt, 2003 Adam Drury, 2004 Craig Fleming, 2005 Darren Huckerby, 2006 Gary Doherty, 2007 Darren Huckerby, 2008 Dion Dublin.