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‘Weakest link’ Paul Dixon ends up star man on Hampden bow
IF MANAGER Craig Levein is understandably ambivalent about the outcome of this World Cup qualifier, then the defender who was given his Scotland debut by his former Dundee United gaffer had few such reservations.
After being named Man of the Match within days of being called into the Scotland squad, Paul Dixon will now be the first name on the teamsheet for Tuesday’s crucial match against Macedonia.
“On Monday afternoon I was playing a bit of snooker at the [Huddersfield Town] training ground and then Glynn Snodin, the assistant manager, comes across and says ‘you’ve been called up’. I’m just like, ‘are you joking?’ so he showed me the text, It was just a case of speed home, throw my stuff in a bag and get up the road as quick as possible.
“This is a dream come true: I’ve played a game for my country and I’ve got a man of the match as well, so I don’t think it could have gone any better except for getting the win. A point’s still a good result, it’s not a defeat so we can build on that and hopefully get three points on Tuesday.”
If making his debut at Hampden against a team ranked 30 places above Scotland wasn’t nerve-racking enough, the 25-year-old Aberdonian was also in the unenviable position of knowing that he had been identified as Scotland’s weak link by the Serbs thanks to photographs of their battle-plans in yesterday morning’s newspapers.
“I thought it was our tactics sheet because I just got a quick look at it over someone’s shoulder at breakfast,” laughed Dixon. “But when I got a closer look at it and saw that it was theirs, I was kind of ‘oh right, OK – if that’s what they want to do then I’ll show them’. And I feel as if I’ve done exactly that.”
Far from being the weakest link, Dixon was Scotland’s stand-out. Immovable in defence and outstanding in the air, he also ranged up and down the left wing like a genuine wing back.
“Going forward is part of my game,” he said. “When Craig Levein was my manager at Dundee United he always encouraged me to get forward and get balls in the box, so he just told me to do what I normally do.”
It all made for a debut to savour and Dixon added: “I was trying to take everything in, to enjoy the moment, to soak it up, but I was also fully focused and very happy with my performance.
“It wasn’t the three points we were going out for but it’s not a defeat, it’s a draw, it’s a point. And we’ve made chances – plenty of chances – so that’s good to take into the next game.”
Taken from the Scotsman