End of a great career for an ex-Claret

Last updated : 11 May 2002 By Tony Scholes

So often we sold players who didn't perform quite so well with their new clubs as they had done at Burnley. This was not always the case and clearly hasn't been for a player who started his Burnley career in the early 1980s, Lee Dixon.

Having played successfully in the reserves Lee made his debut in a vital game for the club against Queens Park Rangers at the Turf as we fought for our lives at the bottom of the old Second Division. He came in for the injured Brian Laws who had been the regular right back.

We won that game and Lee retained his place for the remaining two games, both away at Leicester and Crystal Palace, as the Clarets slipped back into the 3rd Division. He was still in the side as we started the following season at Hull under the management of John Bond. The game ended in a 4-1 defeat and Lee was left out for the next game.

In fact he was never to play for the club again. Despite not having a regular right back, Bond sold Laws to Huddersfield, there was no place for Lee. Bond himself had been a right back and realised immediately the lack of potential in the young Claret.

In February of that season Bond released him and he moved on to Chester City along with left back Andy Wharton and goalkeeper Billy O'Rourke. He won a regular place in the Chester side but even they didn't recognise his potential but certainly one of his former team mates at the Turf had.

After 57 league appearances for Chester he joined Martin Dobson at Bury and in his only season there played all but one of the league games. It was clear by now that Bond had got it totally wrong and here was a player with some potential and with Burnley now in the basement division Lee's career moved upwards again when he moved on to Stoke after just a year at Gigg Lane. Dobbo was furious when the tribunal set the fee at just £40,000 with no sell on fee.

He was only at Stoke for a season and a half when he was sold to Arsenal for £400,000 and a massive profit for Stoke. In 1988 this was a massive fee for a full back. It was to be the last transfer he was involved in.

Many said he wouldn't be good enough to play for Arsenal but he became the regular right back in what is probably the most famous defence ever to play in English football. Will the names of Dixon, Adams, Bould and Winterburn ever be forgotten?

It is difficult to know where to start really but in over fourteen years at Arsenal he has played in 457 league games prior to today's home game against Everton. But it is not just that, this week he won his fourth Championship as Arsenal became Premiership Champions for the second time. It was also the second time he had been involved in a double winning team.

He reached the very top and represented England on 22 occasions at full international level and as good as we Clarets fans thought he could be almost twenty years ago we could never have envisaged this for him.

Now at the age of 38 he has announced his retirement after playing well over 850 games in all competitions from the lower divisions of the Football League to the Champions League and the World Cup.

It really has been a wonderful career, not bad for someone who got to Burnley because his dad Roy and out Chief Scout at the time Gordon Clayton had been rival reserve team goalkeepers at Manchester City and United in the 1950s.

Congratulations Lee and enjoy your last day today – and please remember we never wanted rid of you, it was just that idiot who couldn't see potential if it hit him in the face.