There were times when Paul Dickov looked like breaking into the Arsenal first team and staying there - but it didn't quite happen for the diminutive Scot.
Dickov was a trainee at Highbury, having been spotted playing for Scotland at the 1989 FIFA Under-16 World Championship. He emerged as a prolific scorer at reserve level and spent the mid-1990s on the outskirts of the first team.
|Arsenal Career||1988 - 1996|
|Appearances||25 (8 starts, 17 as a sub)|
George Graham handed Dickov his debut against Southampton on March 20, 1993, and he went on to score against Crystal Palace and Tottenham at the end of that campaign. The Scot did not disappoint but, in truth, he may not have got his chance if Graham hadn't rested players ahead of the FA Cup Final.
When Kevin Campbell and Ian Wright returned to the fray, Dickov was shunted back to the bench. He headed out on loan to Luton and Brighton in the 1993/94 season before returning to warm the bench in Copenhagen as an Wright-less Arsenal shocked Parma in the Cup Winners' Cup Final.
It was a similar story for Dickov in 1995/96 as he got close, but not close enough, to sustained first-team football. The striker earned a run in the side over the Christmas and New Year period after impressing against Sheffield Wednesday. However, by now Dennis Bergkamp was in situ, Wright was at his peak and John Hartson was also in the frame. Once again, Dickov could not establish himself.
It was a pity because few players are as 'honest' as Dickov. He never gave anything less than his all in an Arsenal shirt and, despite question marks over his height, Dickov compensated for his 5 foot 5 frame with heart and endeavour. He was quick, skilful and scurried around up front causing problems for defenders.
Eventually Dickov chose the best option for his career - a move away from Highbury. Manchester City came calling in August 1996 and the Scot spent nearly six seasons there before joining Leicester.
During his time with the Foxes, Dickov almost scuppered Arsenal's 'Invincibles' season in when he nodded the Foxes ahead at Highbury on the final day of the 2003/04 season. Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira turned the game around but it was a reminder of Dickov's ability to trouble defences.