Dixie Dean: The Pre-War English Goal Scoring Machine

Dixie Dean is one of the greatest footballers and goalscorers of all time. The English centre forward is an absolute legend of the sport and is widely considered to be the best player of his era. In this post, we will find out more about him. Let’s get started.

Dixie Dean: All You Need To Know

Who is Dixie Dean?

William Ralph Dean, better known as Dixie Dean is a football legend of England. Such was his brilliance on the field that Bill Shankly said this about him: “He belongs to the greatest class of performers, alongside Beethoven, Shakespeare and Rembrandt. Dixie Dean is a football legend that very few know about today. 

It must be said that there is a lack of benchmarks because when Dean was a player, there was no question of individual awards such as the Golden Ball, not more than there were international competitions, or nations, or clubs. But clearly, it is not far fetched to consider that he was one of the greatest, if not the greatest footballer of the interwar period. At least the best finisher, a Cristiano Ronaldo of his time. His statistics are dizzying: he is credited with 425 goals in 489 professional games, including 377 in 431 appearances for Everton, the club of his golden age,

When was Dixie Dean born?

William Ralph Dean was born on January 22, 1907, in Birkenhead, on the Mersey estuary, just opposite Liverpool. During the 1914/1915 season, his father got into the habit of taking him to Goodison Park, where he attended the second national title in the history of “ the other Liverpool club, of which he became a fan at the same time as he became a football fan. So whenever he could, he played, whether it was with a ball or something else. 

Did Dixie Dean kick rats?

In a biography dating from 1978, it is reported that Dean, who had left school at the age of 14 to work as a railroader in the Birkenhead suburban railway company, had fun at night with his colleagues kicking in the many rats that infested the company sheds to kill them by throwing them against the walls. It was there, according to legend, that he learned to kick hard and accurately with both feet. 

How did Dixie Dean get his nickname?

Despite his expertise in kicking rats, it was Dixie Dean’s heading that impressed from his debut on a football pitch. At 16, in 1923, he joined the small neighborhood club, Tranmere Rovers, which played in D3. From the following season, he began to pile up the goals: 27 in 27 league games. It was there that he was given the nickname “ Dixie  ”, from the name of the southern states of America, in reference to his very brown hair and dark skin. A nickname that he would hang around all his life although he didn’t like it, preferring to be called “ Bill ”.

What was Dixie Dean’s salary?

In the spring of 1925, Everton signed the prodigy, for a large transfer fee at the time: 3000 pounds. On the other hand, he would never win a fortune. In his heyday, his salary reached 8 pounds a week in winter, 6 pounds in summer, plus a few dozen from time to time in bonuses and a few “extras” in advertising, notably for a brand of cigarettes. Yes, it was not shocking at the time that a footballer could advertise smoking. 

Still, Dixie Dean quickly became the number one offensive asset of the Toffees. During his first season with the blue jersey on his shoulders, in 1925/1926, he scored 32 times, in the league alone. But that’s nothing compared to the record he set in 1927/1928 and which still stands: 60 goals scored in the league, 67 over the whole season. Everton became champions of England and Dean, only twenty years old, was included in the national team. He scored 4 against France in two matches played in Colombes in 1927 and 1928. Dixie Dean was known for his strong physique, rounded chest, broad shoulders, and carnivorous smile. Dixie Dean had an almost extraterrestrial body for his time.

Did Dixie Dean have a big motorcycle crash?

In 1926, however, Dixie Dean believed that his career was going to be cut short after a serious motorcycle accident. All battered on his hospital bed after 36 hours in a coma, the doctors told him that he will never be able to play football again, but they will still try to mend what can be. In particular, they put a metal plate on him to fix the broken jaw, which earned him a new nickname: iron man. 

Four months after the accident, he was back on the field. His headers are so powerful that opponents suspect that the doctors did not put metal plates only at the level of the jaw. In 1932, Everton won another league title (with 45 goals for Dean), then the following year the winners added to the tally with an FA Cup final victory at Wembley against Manchester City. Dixie Dean was 26 years old and at the peak of her career, which then gradually declined, and the fault of physical fragility began to be felt. You can’t escape death by motorcycle accident without some long-term consequences. Classy, ​​he agreed to take under his wing the young Tommy Lawton, 12 years his junior, whom he patiently trained and who succeeded him as top scorer in the English championship twice in 1938 and 1939, with Everton winning a new league title this last season.

How did Dixie Dean end his football career?

Dean ended his career just before the war, after a few quick spells in second-rate clubs. He moved to the small town of Chester and opened a pub, The Dublin Packet, which still exists today. He then led a peaceful existence as a citizen resuming a normal life, always closely following football and horse racing, his other passion (for the record, when he married in 1931, he took his wife on honeymoon all across England’s racetracks!). 

In 1976, a severe thrombosis took away one of his legs. Diminished, in a wheelchair, he was about to attend the derby between Everton and Liverpool on March 1, 1980, when he suffered a heart attack which led to his demise at the age of 73. He has since been immortalized with his statue and his entry into the Hall of Fame of English football. 

Dixie Dean is also infamous for sending boxes of aspirin to the goalkeeper of Liverpool before every Merseyside derby. The box of aspirin also contained a letter addressed to Elisha Scott, the goalkeeper of Liverpool. The letter read: “Go to bed tonight because tomorrow I will take care of you.” Yet another story of the incredible Dixie Dean, a true legend of English football. The newest goalscoring sensation of the Premier League, Manchester City’s Erling Haaland is gunning for Dixie Dean’s goal scoring benchmark this season.

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