Dion Dublin: Cambridge must savour 'one-off' experience

Thursday 22 Jan 2015
Dion Dublin spent four seasons at Cambridge between 1988 and 1992

Sitting in the Dion Dublin Bar in Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium, the local hero is clearly among friends – back at the club where he made his name.

“I’ve just got a pint and I didn’t have to pay for it, so that’s a bonus,” says Dion Dublin.

The former centre-forward spent a four-year spell at Abbey Road between 1988 and 1992, before moving north to Manchester in a million pound deal.

Cambridge United v Manchester United

The FA Cup
Fourth Round Proper
7.55pm, Friday 23 January
Abbey Stadium, Cambridge
Live on BBC One
Winners receive £90,000 from FA Prize Fund

Back at the club where it all began for him, he was talking about the upcoming FA Cup clash. And with Manchester United’s visit to Cambridge an extremely rare occasion he says the players should grasp the opportunity with both hands.

“It’s a one-off. This is their chance to prove themselves, to the fans and in front of millions worldwide,” he said.

The game will be beamed around the world on TV, Dublin says the game provides the the U’s the opportunity to perform on the global stage that comes with a game against the eleven-time FA Cup winners.

“Because Manchester United are involved that means people around the world will be watching. So I would tell the players to go out there and show the world what you’re made of.”

Separated by 76 league places, the League Two outfit will welcome Louis van Gaal’s men to the Abbey Stadium on Friday evening.

And having played at both ends of the football spectrum, Dublin says the Cambridge players must respect, but never fear, their illustrious opposition.

“That’s what The FA Cup is all about,” he added. 

“It’s about looking at the team-sheets and seeing your name alongside theirs. 

Dion Dublin celebrates a Wembley goal for Cambridge in the 1990 Fourth Division play-off at Wembley

"You may never have thought you’d share a football pitch with these players. 

“It’s a one-off opportunity so make sure you go out, stand up and be counted and don’t be scared. 

“And maybe, just maybe, you'll get chance to write your names in the history books of the club.”

Now 45 and retired since 2008, Dublin looks back on his time at the Abbey Stadium with great fondness.  

It was a period of great success, as the club achieved back-to-back promotions and a run that saw them reach the Sixth Round of The FA Cup.

Dion Dublin in action for Manchester United in 1994

“It was a great time for me,” he recalled. 

“I went from a boy into a man. 

"I had good team-mates, good ethics – just everything at the club at the time felt like we were always moving forward and we never stood still. 

"We all seemed to come through at the same time, there was a lot of us of a similar age. We loved our football and couldn’t wait to get on the pitch.

“For no other reason than for Cambridge United to make as much money as possible, I’d love a draw”

Dion Dublin on Cambridge v Man Utd

"We'd come in and just get on with it. The attitude was very much ‘what would you like us to do? How many walls would you like us to run through?’"

And asked where his loyalties will be on Friday evening, Dublin explained what he hopes to see from the game.

“The honest answer is, for no other reason than for Cambridge United to make as much money as possible, I’d love a draw,” he said. 

“That is not with any thought of Cambridge United progressing from there, because I think Manchester United will win the tie, but if Cambridge get two games out of it then that’s what I’d be most happy about.”

Dion Dublin, who was speaking on behalf of official FA Cup sponsor williamhill.com.

By Jamie Reid Senior Writer