Dion Dublin

What if Dublin hadn't broken his leg?

Monday 17 January 2022 17:00

Dion Dublin has joked about how his broken leg in 1992 helped kick-start Manchester United’s spell of Premier League dominance.

The former Reds striker is the first UTD Podcast guest of the new year, starring in the latest episode which you can listen to now, via the Manchester United App.

Dublin scored over 100 Premier League goals between 1992 and 2004, with the vast majority of those coming during spells with Coventry City and Aston Villa. When the revamped top tier of English football launched 30 years ago, Dion was United’s big summer signing, having joined from Cambridge United for a £1m transfer fee.

He netted a late winner versus Southampton at The Dell in August 1992 to clinch our first-ever victory in the new division and, at the age of 23, looked ready to lead the line for years to come.

Just a week later, though, a cruel twist of fate intervened as Dublin was felled by a brutal challenge which kept him out for six months and directly led to perhaps the most important United transfer of all.

UTD Podcast: My horror injury at Old Trafford Video

UTD Podcast: My horror injury at Old Trafford

Dublin discusses how he stayed positive after breaking his leg early on in his time at United…

“So I dislocated my ankle,” Dublin picks up the tale at a particularly painful point. “My ankle was over there, my foot was that way and my joint was over here.

“I’d broken the fib [fibula] as well, so there was a break and a dislocation. It was a tackle from Eric Young, the big centre-half playing for Crystal Palace. They used to call him the Ninja. He got me that day.

“He might say that [it was an accident] but I think it was just a really bad tackle.

“It was painful but because the adrenaline was up, I didn’t know what had happened really: I was just in a lot of pain.”

Dublin didn’t play again until the following March and only made a further 11 appearances for the club in total.

By the time he had recovered, a significant obstacle was blocking his path to first-team football, with Eric Cantona having joined from Leeds in November 1992.

The tale of how Sir Alex Ferguson convinced the mercurial Frenchman to sign is now legendary but it probably would not have happened had Dublin not been so unfortunate.

Born is The King - Cantona's anniversary


On this day, Eric made his United bow in the Manchester derby against City.

United went seven league games without victory in the autumn, scoring only four goals and, having dropped to 10th in the table, the boss saw the need to bring in another forward.

The rest, as they say, is history and Dublin can look back and laugh now – he ended up scoring more top-flight goals than the King, even if he missed out on the league titles Eric would eventually deliver.

UTD Podcast: Starting my first game as a Red Video

UTD Podcast: Starting my first game as a Red

Dion reveals how he missed a flight to Southampton, prior to his scoring on his first start for United…

“It was really difficult to take but it was the end really,” Dion continues. “Back to what we were talking about with the big players, though. Eric Cantona comes in and as soon as Eric came through the door… by the way, I am the catalyst to United’s success! [laughs]

“I don’t break my leg, Eric Cantona doesn’t come and United are going down! Thank you very much…

“Eric comes in and it all changes but it doesn’t make me sad. It just makes me stronger and makes me want to achieve, if not here… I played a few more games but I’m not a negative person.”