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Dickson, whose younger brother Kelvin was to follow in his footsteps, could hardly have made a more emphatic start to his City career, starting 12 out of 13 games in the autumn of the 2001-02 campaign.
The athletic holding midfielder had not found favour with previous manager Joe Royle, but his form in pre-season impressed successor Kevin Keegan enough to give him an extended run in the senior side.
He made his debut alongside new midfield signing Ali Benarbia on 15 September against Birmingham, a 3-0 win that saw him keep his place through to December.
But when protracted contract negotiations stalled, the then-19-year-old was transferred to Preston North End in January 2002 - one of David Moyes' last signings before Preston's boss succeeded fellow Scot Walter Smith at Everton. It was not a managerial move that benefited Etuhu.
However, he did make 149 appearances and score 18 goals in just short of four years at Deepdale before a loan spell with Norwich became permanent in January 2006 for £450,000
It was destined to be a briefer stay than expected at Carrow Road. Nigel Worthington, the manager who signed him, was fired in October and Etuhu himself moved on, to newly-promoted Sunderland, in the summer of 2007.
Black Cats boss Roy Keane pushed through the move by matching the £1.5million get-out clause in his contract to take him to the north-east, but there was trouble ahead for Etuhu when, having broken into the Nigeria team at 25 in a friendly against Mexico, he was called up for the 2008 African Nations Cup.
On his return he struggled to reclaim his place in the Sunderland team, and to add to his misfortune Nigeria boss Berti Vogts lost his job with the Super Eagles, leaving Etuhu in international exile until March 2009, although he was back in favour for the 2010 African Nations Cup.
He was also part of the squad for the 2010 World Cup but has since declared he would not play for Nigeria coach Samson Siasia, effectively ending his international career after 17 caps.
His failure to regain a first-team spot at Sunderland in the second half of the 2007-08 campaign, meanwhile, led to him moving to Fulham at the end of the season, again for a £1.5m fee.