Kerry Dixon remains a Chelsea legend even though the club have moved on since his day.
THEN AND NOW: Kerry Dixon remains a Chelsea legend even though the club have moved on since his day. Kerry talks about his dream start for England and which current Chelsea forward would make his best strike partner.
Kerry Dixon scored 193 goals for Chelsea and netted four times in eight games for England, going to the 1986 World Cup alongside fellow strikers Gary Lineker, Mark Hateley and Peter Beardsley. He is now the manager of non-league Hitchin Town and runs his own coaching clinics for children.
Then - You were a prolific scorer for Reading. Were Chelsea the only club you could have joined?
There were five teams in for me – Coventry, Chelsea, Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich. The others probably had better teams than Chelsea but they were the first ones in and I was also aware of the club’s history.
The Reading manager Ian Branfoot told me that Bobby Gould at Coventry wanted to speak to me but that Ken Bates was coming to see me straight away.
Batesy came and took me straight to Aberystwyth where the players were running up sand dunes for their pre-season trainin. Chelsea had finished just missed out on being relegated to the old Division Three but they were still Chelsea and they were the ones I wanted to join.
Now - Which Chelsea striker would make your best partner?
I was more similar to a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink or a Hernan Crespo so I would say my best partner would be either Eidur Gudjohnsen or Adrian Mutu because they like to drop deep and create things as well. I would probably opt for Mutu because a lot of his running reminds me of David Speedie, who was an excellent foil for me at Chelsea.
Then - Was your England colleague Gary Lineker a good talker?
Gary was one of those people who was pretty much good at everything; football, cricket, talking. He was very articulate and I think he’s gone onto be an excellent presenter. Both Gary and myself weren’t the greatest trainers in the world unless it was practising things that were relevant for strikers, like shooting and finishing.
Now - Who would you pick as Owen's partner at Euro 2004?
That’s a very good question. It’s very close between Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey.
Rooney is the favourite but I wouldn’t necessarily write off Heskey, he has the experience and is a handful on his day.
It is a close call, Rooney looked good in the last game in Sweden and might produce more of a goal threat if Owen is being kept quiet. Heskey challenges for high balls, works hard, puts himself about. Very close – Owen and Rooney, just.
Then - What is your favourite England memory?
You couldn’t really beat my first start for England against West Germany in 1985, when we won 3-0. I scored twice and was very proud that I also set up the third goal for Bryan Robson.
The next year I went to the World Cup but I only got six minutes in the whole tournament. I came on for Gary Lineker against Poland after he had already scored a hat-trick.
Now - Would you make Chelsea Champions League favourites?
The bookies do but I wouldn’t get carried away with that. I would take the attitude that there are no favourites of the four teams.
Chelsea are excellent but they are playing Monaco, who knocked out the favourites Real Madrid in the last round.
Realistically, you could see any of the semi-finalists possibly winning it. Chelsea have to focus totally on the next two games, not think they have done the hard work by beating Arsenal.
Then - Who signed you for Chelsea?
It was John Neal. He was very quiet, if he wanted to make a point he would take you to one side and explain it rather than shout and bawl. He was a honest, sincere man.
Now - Why do you think people were pleased to see Chelsea beat Arsenal?
We like to see underdogs win in this country. It’s a funny thing but if somebody or some team rises to the top, we like to see them beaten. It is the way we are. A little bit of it might be because of Claudio as well. I have met him a few times and he is a very polite man, says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.