Dickov a mixture of light and dark

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The Independent Football

Paul Dickov has been known as many things in his time. To the Manchester City players he spent six seasons alongside, he was "The Wasp". To his manager at Maine Road, Joe Royle, he was "The Crocus" because of his habit of only coming alive in the spring. At Leicester, he has become "The Pest". Put another way, he irritated and frustrated in equal measure.

As those who witnessed his confrontation with his fellow Glaswegian, Alex Rae, in Leicester's last match before departing for La Manga can testify, Dickov is not afraid of squaring up to others, although his relationship with Micky Adams appears to have been more harmonious than it was with Kevin Keegan and perhaps Royle.

"A lot of managers treat their players like kids but he doesn't," Dickov said before travelling to Spain, although with hindsight Adams might have wished he had kept his players under lock and key.

Dickov began his career in the Arsenal of George Graham which was a breeding ground for strong, sometimes disruptive personalities. Since he was fighting Paul Merson and Ian Wright for a striker's berth at Highbury, Dickov became Alan Ball's final signing for Manchester City in August 1995 and within three years he would experience two relegations.

His stoppage-time equaliser in the Second Division play-off final against Gillingham on 30 May 1999 did, however, establish his name forever in Maine Road folklore and when he signed for Leicester, Dickov claimed City had to open a new website because of the thousands of good luck messages the club was sent. In another example of speaking too soon, Dickov claimed to have "a special relationship with City fans".

However, he still managed to get himself booed off when he returned to Manchester City with Leicester, not least because on two occasions he scored against his former club. The elaborate nature of his goal celebrations, however, persuaded the home supporters it was time to forget Wembley.

Dickov has been most effective when used alongside big strikers such as Shaun Goater, Brian Deane and Les Ferdinand, but a combination of injury and indiscipline ensured he has seldom made the most of his talents. This was emphasised three years ago when coming back after a four-month lay-off into a City side fighting for its life, Dickov got himself sent off.

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