Dion Dublin made his name scoring goals with his head and his feet, but he thinks that using your ears is just as important for any aspiring footballer.
The former Aston Villa striker urges budding young players to listen and learn if they want to become the best player they can be.
“Listen to your coaches. Listen your mum and dad, because you wouldn’t be able to get to any games if it wasn’t for them shipping you around,” Dublin told Club Website.
“Do as you’re told. Don’t be cocky. Don’t think you know it all, because I guarantee you don’t.
“Add those together with desire and determination and you’ll have half a chance. It’s not all about talent. Don’t get me wrong, you need a little bit of talent, but it’s about determination and doing the right things, taking the right paths.”
“I had lots of friends who took the wrong path, while I didn’t. I decided to not go to that party on Friday night and stayed in, put it in on a Saturday morning and then scored two goals and somebody was watching and I got a trial. That’s how it works.”
Dublin spent most of his career in English football’s top flight with spells at Manchester United, Coventry City and Aston Villa but, having only made his league debut as a 19-year-old at Cambridge United, he knows a bit about working on your game.
“I started at the very bottom. I know what it’s like to work an 80-hour week for rubbish money. I played for non-league sides and it took me a long time to get where I was. But I’m glad my career went that way. It made me appreciate being there a lot more.”
Dublin was appearing at the Grass Roots Football Show in Birmingham last weekend and, having spent a lot of time playing outside of the professional game, he was keen to highlight the importance of the grassroots game.
“Not all players become professionals. You have to have some kind of non-professional way of enjoying the game. I think the best way of getting into football is playing with your mates first.
“Grassroots football is important. We need it. It’s about developing a base of football for the country and making sure we’ve got a foundation so that we can bring some homegrown talent through.”
Dublin cut his footballing teeth in his hometown of Leicester, playing for a number of youth teams at grassroots level, including Thurmaston Magpies.
A versatile player, Dublin was often employed as a centre back in his professional career, but he is best remembered as a goalscorer and indeed describes himself as “always a striker”.
With 183 league goals and four England caps to his name it is hard to argue. In fact, we had to ask Dion his top tips for any young hot shot strikers out there. Aside from listening to your elders, of course.
“Always put yourself in a position to score goals,” he says. “How you do that will depend on what kind of player you are.
“If you’re fast, use your pace. If you’re a big lump like me, get in the box and use your weight. Always put yourself in that position to score goals, then you’ll get more chances and more half-chances than you would otherwise, which should mean more goals.
“And whether you’re 11, 21, 31 or 41, it’s always nice to score goals!”
Dan Pope, Club Website editor
Dion Dublin was appearing at the Grass Roots Football Show along with The Dube – the cube-shaped percussion instrument which he invented, now finding its way into schools across the country and used by professional musicians including Courtney Pine, The Maccabees and Friendly Fires. To find out more visit thedube.com.