James Poole admits he idolised Paul Dickov as young Manchester City fan

James Poole chases down a ball. Picture by FRANK REID
James Poole chases down a ball. Picture by FRANK REID

FOR Paul Dickov it was just another sign that his playing days were coming to an end, being replaced by a wide-eyed 16-year-old in front of a handful of fans during a reserve-team fixture.

But for that young hopeful – none other than Hartlepool United’s James Poole – it was a special moment.

That had nothing to do with his substitute appearance for Manchester City’s second-string and another step in his footballing education.

It was all about the man he’d just shaken hands with, the same player who he’d idolised growing up as a young City fan.

Poole – then aged just nine - was in the crowd at Wembley when Dickov scored a 95th-minute equaliser in the Division Two play-off final against Gillingham in 1999, City going on to claim a penalty-shootout victory.

And so it will again be a moment to remember for the Pools striker when he comes up against Dickov – now manager of Oldham Athletic – on Boxing Day.

“Oldham are a team I follow closely, one because of the geography to home but two because of Paul Dickov and the Man City connection,” he told SportMail today.

“He’s a legend among City fans for the goal he scored at Wembley in the play-offs and that was probably one of my best-ever moments as a fan.

“I don’t really know him personally but when I was a kid at City I actually came on for his as a sub in a reserve game – he won’t remember but it was a really special moment for me.

“So it’ll be good to see him again – he might not remember me before the game but I hope he knows who I am after it.

“He was coming towards the end of his time at City when I was coming through but it was great to get that chance to share a dressing room with him, even if it was only for one or two games.”