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Lee Michael Dixon (born 17 March 1964) is a former English professional footballer born in Manchester.
He formed part of the Arsenal defence from the late 1980s, through till 2002. He was capped 22 times for England, scoring once.
Dixon currently works for the BBC's Match of the Day (and MOTD2) as a football pundit and writes a corresponding column for their website. At the time of his retirement, he had played at 91 out of the 92 Football League grounds – every one except Fulham F.C.'s Craven Cottage.
Dixon was signed by Arsenal boss George Graham in January 1988 following the departure of England right back, Viv Anderson, toManchester United. This was the first time that Dixon had played in the First Division.
It took a while for Dixon to be given a first team role at Highbury. With England international Kenny Sansom at left back, the equally left-sided Nigel Winterburn had been a guarded success in the unfamiliar right back role, though Dixon did make his debut against Luton Town in February 1988 and played six times in total before the season ended. In the new season, Winterburn moved across to left back, allowing Dixon to take over the No.2 shirt, which he duly did for well over ten years. Displaced Sansom left Arsenal the following winter.
Dixon later wrote in his column in The Independent of the defence that he played in at Arsenal, "I was fortunate to play in an Arsenal back line that earned itself a reputation as being OK. I'm not trying to be overly modest in saying that, as individuals, we weren't the best players in the world. But certainly all my weaknesses were compensated for by Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown and Steve Bould, and vice versa. If one of us wasn't playing well, the others picked up the slack."
Dixon and Winterburn made the full back positions their own for the next decade or so, while captain Tony Adams and the long-serving David O'Leary operated in the middle. Later in 1988 they were joined by Steve Bould who, like Dixon before him, had been spotted by Graham playing for Stoke City. These five defenders, often playing as a back five together (rather than the conventional back four) were the linchpin of an Arsenal side who became serious challengers for the First Division title the 1988-89 season, an honour which they had not won since 1971 but had looked more and more like winning since Graham's appointment as Arsenal manager in May 1986.
Dixon was a marauding right back, ever willing to support his winger David Rocastle and his attacking skills were still noted even though his main job (and the main priority of the side as a whole) was to defend. He also had a short spell during this period as the club's penalty taker. Arsenal took the chase for the League championship to the last day of the season when they faced Liverpool at Anfield. With Arsenal needing to win by two goals, the game stood at 1–0 as the clock showed the 90 minutes were up. Dixon received a ball in his own half and looked to mount a final attack. Spotting the run of centre forward Alan Smith towards the right channel, Dixon delivered a long ball on to his chest. Smith's run had forced a Liverpool defender across with him and Arsenal midfielder Michael Thomas made a charge into the gap, took Smith's sideways pass in his stride and slipped the ball past Bruce Grobbelaar. There was barely time for Liverpool to restart and Arsenal took the title, the first of many honours Dixon would win.
Arsenal struggled to hold on to the title the following year (and were unable to take part in the European Cup because the ban on English clubs after Heysel was still ongoing). In the 1990-91 season, Arsenal's defence (now with David Seaman playing behind them in goal) grew even meaner, with just one defeat all season as they won the League championship again.
After the 1992 summer, a fit-again Dixon was also defending the League title within the familiar Arsenal defence. With O'Leary's retirement imminent, Graham had provided extra cover in the centre of defence by signing Martin Keown from Everton – ironically the player who'd ended up playing at right back in Euro 92 after both Dixon and Stevens became unavailable.
O'Leary ended up in Dixon's place at right back for the 1993 League Cup final against Sheffield Wednesday – Dixon was suspended, having being sent off in Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final victory over Spurs. Arsenal won 2–1. Dixon was back when the sides met again for the FA Cup final which Arsenal won by the same scoreline in a replay, after the initial game had ended in a 1–1 draw.
In 1994, Dixon won a European medal to complement his domestic collection as Dixon, Winterburn, Bould and Adams suppressed the efforts of Tomas Brolin, Gianfranco Zola andFaustino Asprilla of Italian side Parma. Arsenal scored an early goal in the European Cup Winners Cup final in Copenhagen and this was enough, winning 1–0.
Dixon was again in his No.2 shirt as Arsenal slumped domestically in 1995 but reached the final of the Cup Winners Cup again. Though the defence in Paris was breached by Real Zaragoza, Arsenal equalised and took the game to extra time. A lob from 40 yards in the final minute from Nayim (an ex-Spurs player) over David Seaman prised the trophy from the Gunners.
At the end of 1996, Arsène Wenger arrived at Highbury and started to introduce lifestyle policies to the Arsenal squad, changing their life's outlook, self-awareness and diet. Wenger later admitted that he expected to replace each defender he inherited fairly quickly, but just as quickly realised he didn't need to. Dixon and his defensive colleagues recognised Wenger for giving them extra years at the helm of the game. Arsenal won the second "double" of the club's history in 1998 and Dixon received a testimonial the following year as he entered his tenth full season at Arsenal.
Dixon played in a UEFA Cup campaign in 2000 which saw Arsenal reach the final in the same Copenhagen stadium where they had won the Cup Winners Cup six years earlier. This time they were beaten on penalties by Galatasaray of Turkey. Earlier in that season he had missed a penalty in a shootout as Arsenal crashed out of the 1999/2000 FA Cup to Leicester City. The following year Arsenal reached the FA Cup final but lost 2–1 to Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – the 37 year old Dixon being outpaced by the 21 year oldMichael Owen for the winning goal. Dixon played on for one more season helping Arsenal to win another historic "double", the third in the club's history and second under managerArsène Wenger, clinching the league title over rivals Manchester United at their home ground Old Trafford. This made him one of the few men to have won league titles in three different decades (80s, 90s and 00s)
Dixon retired from playing after winning that double in 2002 at the age of 38, with Adams quitting at the same time. Only Seaman and Keown then remained at the club from the defensive group Dixon had become associated with at Arsenal (after O'Leary's retirement in 1993, Bould had been the next to go in 1999 and then Winterburn followed him out of Highbury a year later). Dixon made 458 appearances in the League, scoring 25 goals.
Honors with Arsenal.
- First Division/Premier League: 1988–89, 1990–91, 1997–98, 2001–02
- FA Cup: 1993, 1998, 2002
- League Cup: 1992–93
- FA Charity Shield (now the FA Community Shield): 1991 (shared), 1998, 1999
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1993–94
- Premier League:1998–99,1999–2000,2000–01
- FA Cup:2001
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup:1994–95
- UEFA Cup(forerunner to the UEFA Europa League):1999–2000
- FA Charity Shield(now theFA Community Shield):1993
- Being one of theArsenal F.C 1990s back four.