Belfast Telegraph

Milk Cup: Dion Dublin urges stars to make most of their golden opportunity

By Ali Gordon

Eric Cantona owes it all to Dion Dublin, believes the man whose Manchester United career was short-lived due to injury.

"Without me, Eric Cantona wouldn't have been there. I broke my leg and they drafted him in from nowhere," Dublin, a BBC and Sky Sports pundit, said.

After a poor tackle from Crystal Palace's Eric Young in only his second appearance for the Red Devils, Dublin fractured his fibula and damaged ankle ligaments, forcing him out of action for six months.

During this time, Sir Alex Ferguson called upon Cantona to partner striker Mark Hughes, where he remained throughout United's 1992/1993 Premier League glory.

"I suppose you could say he should be thanking me," Dublin said, laughing.

Whilst it's hard to imagine that Dublin would have achieved the same stature as the Frenchman did, a dark cloud remains over the centre forward's career.

"Eric Cantona wasn't the myth and the legend, I was. If I hadn't broken my leg then he probably would never have played for them [Manchester United] at all," said Dublin, tongue-in-cheek.

"He has about two inches on me, he just has a presence – he's a genius. He went on to do such amazing things there that nobody ever really expected," said 6ft 2ins Dublin.

Revealing just how he got his chance at United, the 45-year-old told compere Jackie Fullerton at the Dale Farm Milk Cup draw how Ferguson was sent a Betamax tape containing footage of some of his goals.

After joking about how long ago it was, Dublin said: "He [Ferguson] offered me £1 million to go to Manchester United. I'd have walked there for a fiver."

He added: "It was a delight, completely out of the blue. I went from playing in front of 2,000 people at Cambridge United to 50,000 at Old Trafford."

Dublin commended Milk Cup alumni such as 'Class of '92' aces David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, who "stayed behind to practice their free kicks" and worked extra-hard because "they were the ones who became superstars."

Praising the calibre of footballers who have come through the Milk Cup ranks and the opportunities linked to the tournament, Dublin advised the many young footballers to make the most of their chances.

"You have to raise your game in this sort of thing, you've got to shine. You've got to affect the matches and listen to the coaches. It's the work that people don't see that gets rewarded – you've got to do whatever it takes to stand out."

He jested: "Forget the 'Class of '92', if I hadn't broken my leg then it all could've been different. They owe it all to me.

"Of course I'll always wonder what could've been at United but it's just one of those things, I guess I'll never know," he said.

Looking forward to the summer, Dublin revealed his tips for the World Cup in Brazil. The upbeat pundit said: "They're in their own back garden so Brazil are going to be hard to stop.

"But outside bets? Portugal and Belgium, they've got a good chance, and teams like Holland always flatter to these kind of competitions but it's hard to look beyond Brazil and Spain."

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