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Ten years on, Dickov is picture perfect

Paul Dickov vs Gillingham goal celebration 1999

Paul Dickov vs Gillingham goal celebration 1999

It's the most famous photo there is of one of City's most memorable matches ... striker Paul Dickov slides on his knees and celebrates his lifeline Wembley goal against Gillingham in the Division Two play-off final.

That iconic image, reproduced thousands of times since, seems to sum up the astonishing comeback from 2-0 down with 88 minutes gone to a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory that made history ten years ago today.

But Dickov, who fired his way into Blues folklore with that unforgettable injury-time equaliser, always remembers the other moment when he found himself in a simliar position that remarkable day in 1999.

He said: "I've seen that clip of me sliding on my knees a good few times and it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But when their second goal went in, I was on my knees at the half way line.

"We got ourselves out of jail that day. We all felt that in extra time, and that for once it was going to be City's day, because we do very well at cocking it up a little bit!

"But after being 2-0 up and then pulled back to 2-2, you could see in the Gillingham players' faces that they were devastated. It was one of the great days - scoring at Wembley, an incredible late win, promotion.


I always said I didn't think I'd ever feel those emotions again, that I'd never be able to match that feeling, and ten years on that hasn't changed.

Paul Dickov


"I still live in the area and go to most games - I've a girl and two boys, all City fans - and whenever I meet a City fan it's still the first thing they ask me about. I'll never forget it, nor will anybody else."

Dicky, still a handful at 36 and just promoted to the Championship with Leicester, knocked his Wembley goal past his former Arsenal team-mate Vince Bartram, who had been best man at his wedding.  
He said: "It's the most important goal that I've ever scored. City supporters voted it the best ever in 2005 and I'm just honoured to have scored it.

"But it was a special day for everybody at the club, the playing staff and the fans. To say it was 10 years ago it seems like only yesterday. Mind you, it feels like 10 years when I start training in the morning!"

Team-mate Tony Vaughan, one of the Boys of '99 given a standing ovation at the finale game against Bolton, recalls the nerve-racking series of spot kicks that made keeper Nicky Weaver a hero with two saves.

He said: "When it came to the penalties it was a lottery. In the build-up Dicky had never missed - he was the best in the world from the spot - you'd have put your mortgage on him, and he was the one who missed!

"People still recognise me. I was talking to someone the other day and he said, 'where would we be now if we'd not won that day?' The lads went up again the next year. You just think it could all have been a lot different.

"But we had that never-say-die attitude even at 2-0. I don't watch much football now. I walked in for the Bolton game and people were asking for autographs for the first time in ages. It was a nice feeling."

Skipper Andy Morrison said: "I've still got clear memories. It was a fantastic day that couldn't have been scripted better. Our team spirit was great. There were a lot of characters - you needed to be in that league, the places you went.

"I do think that day had a lot of bearing on where the club is now, and we still smile about that. If we hadn't won at Wembley, there was no Plan B. We had to win that day, simple as that."

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