Cult Heroes Header
In the commotion surrounding yesterday's Transfer Deadline it was easy at times to forget that there was a game on tonight as Sunderland welcome Paul Lambert's Norwich City to the North East hoping to bounce back from a disappointing showing in the Cup on Sunday afternoon against Middlesbrough. Sunderland and The Canaries aren't exactly two sides that share many decent players never mind cult heroes and I already played the Ace card with Gary Rowell for the previous fixture!
That said there is one name that stands out, for me at least, a man we were far too quick to let slip through our fingers following an all too brief spell on Wearside. Join me after the jump as I reintroduce you to Dickson Paul Etuhu.
Dickson was born in the ancient city of Kano in Northern Nigeria in 1982 before moving to London aged seven as his family sought medical treatment for his sister who was diagnosed with cancer. Tragically the disease would take his sisters life but Dickson's mother was determined for her family to remain in the capital. It was here that Ethuhu was first introduced the game.
Growing up however football was not Etuhu's only sporting option as he began to show promise in Athletics. All the while though Dickson was still enjoying his football, playing in the same youth side as Shaun Wright-Phillips, although he would not always attend every game. However luck was on the youngman's side as he was spotted by a Manchester City scout at one of the games he did participate in.
Ethuhu spent two years with the club's academy before signing professional papers in 2000. Dickson never really settled in the North-West and would only make twelve appearances for The Citizens before signing with Preston North End in 2002. The imposing defensive midfielder would go on to make 180 appearances for The Lilywhites including a bit-part part in their successful 2004/05 term which saw the side make the Playoff Final where they would fall short to West Ham United but Dickson drew attention from a number of Premier League clubs.
Dickson's Norwich connection would begin with a loan spell from PNE in 2005 before the East Anglian side would stump up £450,000 for his services in the January transfer window. It was with Norwich that Dickson really began to impose himself as a competitive midfielder and was able to hold down a first team place. Etuhu would play in over seventy games in two years for The Canaries before attracting the attention of Roy Keane and his newly promoted Sunderland side in the summer of 2007.
The history books show that Ethuhu only made twenty appearances for The Black Cats but it should have been more. The midfielder missed the end of his first season on Wearside with a knee injury which ultimately required surgery.
Whilst Etuhu was never the most skilful player on the pitch he was easily the most committed and at the time his engine and ability to break up the play was an attribute to the side which Keane really should have utilised more in my opinion. The way that Dickson has been able to secure his spot in a Fulham side that have qualified for European competition is proof enough, with his power and drive perfectly complimenting Danny Murphy's more deft craftsmanship with the ball, that we were maybe too quick to dispose of his services. He could easily have filled what has become the "Lee Cattermole" role but unfortunately for Dickson he was playing alongside Dean Whitehead and not a David Vaughan and as such his work to win back the ball was often for nothing.
Dickson's most memorable moment came in the 2007/08 Wear/Tyne derby when he came face-to-face, literally, with everyone's favourite gobshite Joey Barton when the controversial man decided the only way to stop Sunderland's midfield man mountain was with a kung-fu style kick to Etuhu's presumably sizable groin. Etuhu reacted in a manner similar to how I'm sure many a football fan would like to greet Barton.
Dickson found himself out of favour at Sunderland and joined Fulham in the summer of 2009 for £1.5m where he has undoubtedly had the most successful spell of his career. Etuhu would go on to prove to be the ideal compliment to the creative Danny Murphy and offered an effective line of defense to their back line becoming an important part of their setup.