Dublin signs up for another year

DAVID CUFFLEY Dion Dublin has finally signed on the dotted line to extend his Norwich City career - and then sounded the battle cry for next season.

DAVID CUFFLEY

Dion Dublin has finally signed on the dotted line to extend his Norwich City career - and then sounded the battle cry for next season.

The form of the versatile veteran was undoubtedly one of the few bright spots in City's campaign after he became Nigel Worthington's last signing for the club in September and played 38 times, scoring seven goals.

The 38-year-old former England international put in a series of excellent performances in defence and weighed in with some crucial goals up front as the Canaries fought off the spectre of relegation to League One and put to bed a disappointing season.

And, more than a fortnight after the final game of the season, the former Manchester United, Coventry, Aston Villa and Celtic star ended speculation and eased fans' fears by signing a one-year deal to remain at Carrow Road.

Dublin took his time to make a decision over next season because of concerns over travelling from the Midlands, where his family is based.

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But after pledging his future to City, Dublin, runner-up in the player of the season poll, said the talking had to stop and the club must realise its potential.

“I'm very pleased to be re-signing for a club I feel very at home with,” Dublin said. “Hopefully, next season can be the successful one we all want, as the last one wasn't.

“We have the potential but we have to stop talking about it and do it.”

City boss Peter Grant said the Canaries' fans and board should take a lot of credit for helping to persuade Dublin that his future is yellow and green.

Grant said becoming a fans' favourite had been one of the convincing factors for the man who has made more than 700 career appearances and scored 225 goals.

“I'm delighted,” Grant said. “He deserves his contract. Everybody saw what quality he had last season, and for the four or five months I was here, he has been terrific on and off the field. He's a fantastic professional.

“It's great for the supporters, and they and the board have played their part in wanting to keep him. There was never any problem with the deal as the board were committed in wanting Dion to stay.”

Grant also revealed that while supporters were on tenterhooks waiting for a decision, he had been aware of what Dublin was going to do.

“We let it go on because we wanted the paperwork to be signed and finished before we said anything,” he said. “It wasn't a case of Dion dragging it out.”

Leicester-born Dublin was first with the Canaries for a trial period in 1988 when he played 13 reserve games, scoring four times, but was not offered a contract by manager Dave Stringer. Success with Cambridge United earned him a £1m move to Manchester United in 1992. Further big money deals took him to Coventry and Villa, for whom he played in the 2000 FA Cup final. He later played for Millwall and Leicester. He also won four full caps for England during his Premiership days.

Last September, Worthington snapped him up on a contract until the end of the season but just two games later the manager was sacked.

Dublin made the 700th senior appearance of his career in the East Anglian derby against Ipswich last month, which coincided with his 38th birthday.

Meanwhile, Mansfield defender Alex John-Baptiste has denied he has discussed a move to Norwich.

The 21-year-old centre-half was reported to have met the Canaries for talks, but said: “I have not been to Norwich and I've had no contact with them.”

John-Baptiste is out of contract at Field Mill but insisted he would delay a decision on his future until he sees who Mansfield sign for next season.

He said: “I genuinely want to stay at Mansfield, but I need to see where the club is going first.

“I'm sure Mansfield and the fans don't want to be in League Two forever, and I don't want to be either.

“Who they sign will have an influence on my decision because I don't want to be finishing 17th again.”