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What Dean Windass did next

Paul Fletcher | 20:32 UK time, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

There was no-one near him as the ball dropped out of the dazzling blue sky and Dean Windass demonstrated a technique many might have thought beyond him to make the cleanest of contacts.

The ball violently changed trajectory and flew into the net while he peeled away in celebration.

The fans seated around me inside Wembley stadium erupted, none more so than my wife, who may not be an expert on football but certainly knows enough to recognise a corker of a goal when she sees one.

As it turned out, the goal by Windass, 39 at the time and sporting bleached blond hair more suited to a boy band member than a senior pro, sealed a 1-0 play-off final win over Bristol City and fired Hull City into the top flight for the first time in the club's 104-year history.

Dean Windass celebrates Hull's promotion to the Premier LeagueIt was a goal that consigned me to months of boastful excitement about the fortunes of a team in which I previously had only the most cursory of interest. Only recently has the interest from my better half started to wane.

It also sealed legendary status on the Humber of the local lad done good, the boy from Gipsyville who from the age of nine had set his sights on becoming a professional footballer.

There was talk of naming a street after Windass and a petition has been sent to the Downing Street website. There is a Facebook group calling for a statue to be erected of Windass in Hull.

Would Windass attend the unveiling if they did build a statue of him?

"Of course I would, without a doubt," Windass told me. "It would be an honour."

I spoke to Windass on the Monday when the snow came and he had been unable to drive to training from his home near Leeds.

Windass, of course, now drives west and not east to reach training because his role in Hull's Premier League adventure proved to be disappointingly peripheral. Four substitute appearances, one start (the 5-1 drubbing at Man City on Boxing Day) and one goal (a last-gasp equaliser at Portsmouth in late November that made him the club's oldest ever scorer) were not enough for someone who just loves to play football.

Windass claimed at the turn of the year that manager Phil Brown had not spoken to him in three weeks. Indiscreet words perhaps, but frustration was starting to get the better of the striker, whose love of Hull was trumped by his desire to play.

And so instead of driving to Cottingham near Hull each morning for training, Windass heads for the M62 and travels towards Oldham, the home of his new club.

A proud Yorkshireman, Windass could not resist the observation that "once you get past Saddleworth it is like you are in a different country" but he is clearly enthused about his new challenge with the League One promotion candidates.

"The one thing about it is I have nothing to prove to anybody - I can just go there, enjoy my football and try to score goals," Windass told me.

"Manager John Sheridan wants his team to pass the ball and keep it. There is a good blend of youth and experience - and I want to make the play-offs."

Windass isn't joking about the club being rich in experience. He is 39, as is keeper Mark Crossley. Andy Liddell is 35, Sean Gregan reaches the same age next month and Lee Hughes is no spring chicken at 32.

It is a side built around Oldham's very own Dad's Army, but I don't think Windass is all that familiar with the 1970s television sitcom of the same name. When I asked him which character he would be, he said: "The old geezer with the flat cap and the moustache." That would be Captain Mainwaring, grammar school educated and with an inflated sense of his own self-importance. Not really Windass at all.

Windass is one of those footballers who has done it the hard way. He was initially rejected by Hull and played non-league football for North Ferriby before Terry Dolan offered him a deal with the Tigers. Windass was in his early 20s and had worked as a labourer on building sites and in factories by the time he turned professional.

"Some young footballers need to go out and earn £140 a week on a building site, then when they do earn money in football they will appreciate it," he said.

Two spells at Hull and Bradford and time with Aberdeen, Oxford, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United pay testament to a player that has absolutely made the most of the ability he has.Dean Windass during his time at Middlesbrough

It has not been without its problems. Perhaps not surprisingly he describes being sent off three times in one match for Aberdeen (foul play and then verbal abuse before laying into a corner flag) in 1997 as the low point of his career. But he hardly covered himself in glory by leaving the Sheffield United squad prior to their 2003 Championship play-off final after Neil Warnock left him out of the squad. Windass watched the Blades lose 3-0 to Wolves in a pub.

Windass is suitably contrite about his behaviour in walking out on the squad. "One thing you learn as you get older is that managers make decisions for a reason," he told me. "It was devastating at the time but it is a learning curve and I have no animosity towards Neil Warnock."

If Windass sounds like a player who now sees his behaviour from the other side of the fence it is perhaps because he recognises that he himself might have to break that sort of news one day. He has got all the Uefa badges below the Pro Licence and is qualified to manage in the Football League.

When Windass left Hull, his Dad claimed he would one day be back as manager. Windass isn't so sure about that but he does want to give management a go. "It is not an overnight thing. It has always intrigued me to watch a manager and see what they do," he said.

It all makes sense in a way. Windass says that he "eats, drinks and sleeps" football and he has no desire to step away from the game when he has retired. His wife cannot understand why he chooses to spend the occasional Tuesday wandering up the road from his house to watch Guiseley AFC standing in the cold. Why? "It is in my blood," he replied.

On the day I spoke to Windass, he was due to commentate on a Bradford City fixture for a local radio station and the striker has an increasing media profile.

But for now all that lies in the future.

Windass has a more immediate goal. This season's League One play-off final will take place exactly one year to the day that Windass fired Hull into the Premier League. Can Deano do it again?

"I don't get too carried away, but maybe that is fate," said Windass.


  • Comment number 1.

    O'Neil was to sign Windass when managing Norwich. The chairman, Robert Chase did not sanction the purchase and O'Neil walked out. This is a real shame for me. Windass would have been mid twenties at this time and I have felt ever since he has got better and better. His legs might be knackered now but he's clever on the pitch and effects most games he plays in. I feel Hull could have used him more as a supersub this season.

  • Comment number 2.


    Enough said.

  • Comment number 3.

    Windass has undoubtedly been a great servant of Hull, helping them to the top flight for the first time in their history. Do you feel they have repaid the man who got them into the premier league fairly, by giving him just 5 games this season? Or would a younger Windass have been in the team more regurlarly and that his lack of appearances is more due to his age/fitness?

  • Comment number 4.

    Tangent, but anyone know why Dean, the young Michael Carrick and the others in that photo are all wearing headbands?

  • Comment number 5.

    dean windass is a true legend. love the idea of him going to watch guiseley while playing premiership football - is there ANY other top-flight player who watches non-league football? it's a shame but i doubt it

  • Comment number 6.

    I saw Windass play with Oxford Utd in the 90's. Phenomenal player, lethal from dead ball situations, the skill to turn a full back inside out. So pleased to see he is playing with Oldham.

    Hull made a major mistake in not using him. 30 minutes of Windass is still worth 90 of a lot of players. No one can surely say he has been given a fair crack of the whip this season at Hull? What did they have to lose by playing him more?

    Go to it Deano.

  • Comment number 7.

    What did they have to lose????

    Maybe their Premier League status and a lot of money... Sentimentality will not keep you up in this league. There is no doubting what Windass has done in the game and that he can still prove valuable for a lower league team.. his fitness was always a bit suspect at times and now in his twilight years it wont be getting any better..

  • Comment number 8.

    It is wrong to say that Oldham is a side a side "built around Oldham's very own Dad's Army" - there are a few veterans at the club, but Liddell has been used sparingly this season and Crossley and Gregan have been in and out of the team. The rest of the squad is actually built around youngsters - Chris Taylor and Neal Eardley have both come up through the ranks in recent years and have alerted scouts from higher divisions, while the likes of Lewis Alessandra, Deane Smalley and Kelvin Lomax have also established themselves in the first team.
    Living abroad, I haven't seen Windass play for Oldham yet - but I must say that the signing of a 39-year-old with a serious lack of match fitness, coupled with the absurdly cheap sale of a quick, promising (if often frustrating) young striker and an umpteenth loan deal for another younger forward leaves the side very short on alternatives up front - Hughes and Windass are the least mobile strikeforce in the league.

  • Comment number 9.

    Yeh that is a pretty strange photo.. is that Di Canio at the front? Probably some sort of charity or cup final even or something i dunno, but it is peculiar. And to whoever asked if anyone else watches non league football.. i know its not non league, but funnily enough, Paul Scholes supports Oldham, and takes his kids to watch them at home.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is a great article/blog!... mainly because it does a great job in talking about one of the "true" greats of the game. I am a Bristol City fan and was at Wembley to see City lose to Hull. I was gutted... but on the way back all of us in our car (along with taking comfort in the fact we wouldn't have to face the embarressment of finishing bottom of the Prem league with 0 points) said that there couldn't have been a more fitting match winner than Dean Windass - and that the goal, if scored by Ronaldo or Rooney would be shown over and over again.... (as it is i still haven't seen a replay of it to this day)

    Anyway - I doubt he will read this - but if he does - Dean - thanks for being a great pro for so long and providing all of the countrys football fans with so many great memories. You have been an amazing professional and whenever interviewd have come across as an amazing bloke. Good luck to you.... and if you fancy one last move - please give Gary Johnson a call and get yourself hauling that frame of yours around Ashton Gate

    The term "legend" is used all to easily these days - but in 30 years time this guy will be fondly remembered by lots of fans as a real legend.

    Cheers for the article Fletch ... this is what a blog should be about - loved it

  • Comment number 11.

    Hey, i dont know him, but since everyone seem to fancy him, well... i guess he is a great bloke.
    just wish u could sign for my home club (Eyimba FC) before you finally hang the boot.
    gudluck at oldham sha!

  • Comment number 12.

    This a great job of getting to the heart and spirit of our game. Well done Fletch.

    Nothing more to add as #10 has just about summed it all up.

  • Comment number 13.

    Really Good Article Paul

    Thouroughly enjoyed reading it?!

    Its nice to hear about how down to earth he seems and the great passion that he has for the game, I mean knocking 40 and still "just wanting to play football" is brilliant?! Most have had their money by then and just want to call it quits?!
    I really like the image of him trudging off to watch a spot of local football on a cold turesday night like the rest of us saddo fans so all over the country for the love of our clubs no matter how big or small they are?! That truely is a love for the game by Windass?! like to know how many other footballers would do that?!

    Also totally agree with Windass' comment of -

    "Some young footballers need to go out and earn £140 a week on a building site, then when they do earn money in football they will appreciate it,"

    a truer word cannot be said?! some of them dont realise how lucky they are?!

    Keep Up the Good Stuff Mr Fletcher

  • Comment number 14.

    Enjoyable read,

    Anyone got any idea what the bandana's in the photo are about.
    I thought it was Windass pratting about at first and then realised that they were all wearing them!

  • Comment number 15.

    In answer to the bandana questions:

    Middlesbrough v West Ham

    19 May 2001: Dean Windass of Middlesbrough comes out with his Cancer Awareness Week bandana during the Middlesbrough v West Ham United FA Carling Premiership match at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough.

    Mandatory Credit: Mark Thompson/ALLSPORT

  • Comment number 16.

    I had the delight of watching Dean Windass play for Aberdeen during his time. I worked as a Steward at the home matches, and, I have never seen a more committed player.

    It is such a shame that he has not gathered the respect his is due, yes, his temprament has let him down in the past, but, I have also seen very few as gifted players as Deano.

    Good luck in the future for whatever you turn your hand to.

  • Comment number 17.

    The great thing about Deano is that you would see him at Sunday League matches in his City shell suit supping a pint of Guinness after the match. Said hello lots of times, hes got absolutley no pretentions. He just seems to love the game. My Uncle (Pete "Flash" Flanagan RIP) has a bar named after him at Hull KR, and would love Hull to do something similar for Windass.

  • Comment number 18.

    Now then,

    jjustyy - thanks for clearing up the photo issue. There was a surprising lack of Windass photos on the agencies we use. Ideally, I wanted one of him seeing red with Aberdeen, but as a second best option, Deano looking either furious or doing something silly like sticking his tongue out seemed like a good option.

    And eprstockholm - you are quite right, Oldham have plenty of good young players, something that Windass himself was quick to point out. Here are a couple of quotes that did not make the article:

    "There is a good blend at the club. As long as you can still cut the mustard, the young kids can do the running – and they are very good players."

  • Comment number 19.

    A free spirit.

    He's right about the building site thing, too. Some of the over paid drama queens in the PL ought to spend a few months laboring in the real world.

    The PL has brought many benefits to English football but on the downside, characters like Windass have almost disappeared.

  • Comment number 20.

    rediculous name! - top bloke!... remember him at aberdeen. he looked 40 then.! bit hit or miss but scored sum screamers!

  • Comment number 21.

    Jamie Carragher always finds time to watch his local side (Bootle) play. Went down to watch them play Whitley Bay in the FA Vase recently and although he wasnt there that time (he unfortunately had a premier league match to play in) there was plenty of liverpool signed shirts and photo's in the clubhouse with Carra had apparently brought down. he must be one of the highest profile players to still go and watch his local team. You can tell from interviews etc that he's is still down to earth though!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Seen him a few times and hes been nothing other than ordinary. Let alone one of the "true greats"

    Think that perhaps rises him to a platform he has never been on, nor will he

  • Comment number 23.

    jono1983 - you are correct.

    Dean Windass is clearly not a "true great" as a footballer or based on footballing ability - that i would leave alone for - Maradona, Zidane, Pele, Cruyff, Eusebio, Best, etc.... nor is he a Shearer, Lineker, Barnes, etc.....he isn't even as good at football as an Ashley Cole, Jermain Pennant, joey Barton, etc (who are very good footballers but who often signify everything that people dislike about modern day players)

    The reason i wrote it as "true" great rather than "true great" is not because i am an imbecile and think Windass is as good as Pele but simply because his story, his professionalism, his down-to-earthness, his likeability make him a truly great character whom i would be proud if my children used as a role model rather than P Diddy or Lee Bowyer, etc.).

    It os for that reason that i called him a "true " great ... as he remains, i think, a brilliant example of what can be achieved with hard work - and that you don't need to become a complete nause as soon as you have a micro amount of fame or few quid in the bank. He has remained grounded, always given 100%, at 39 is still in better shape than lots of the younger guys (even though he has always looked fat)....and to boot has scored a load of very high quality goals

    That is why he is great.

    I am sorry that my point wasn't clearer before... but i really thought people would have the ability to see behind the statement rather than think i needed locking in an institution for thinking Dean Windass is the greatest player to walk the earth ever...

  • Comment number 24.

    Woah, Thats a big tongue.

  • Comment number 25.

    re: 4. kkttmmvv:

    I'm guessing that was the game on September 15th 2001 and the headbands were in memory of September 11th attacks?

  • Comment number 26.


    Loved the first comment, then you bettered it with the explanation. Let me know which institution your going to as I would be happy to discuss the "true" greats of the game. We could probably be anal and put a team together of them. Fortunately, there are still some, although not enough it would seem sometimes to balance out the trash in the game.
    Windass, if not a class player, is a class act, excepting the odd red card (did he really lay into a corner flag?). Although that says it all really.

  • Comment number 27.

    Windass obviously isn't a great player but if plenty of more talented footballers had played to their full potential the way that he has then the England team might be in better shape.

    And to still be playing at pushing 40 says it all really.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dean Windass, a wonderful controller of the ball, and annoyingly looking a lot fitter than me.

  • Comment number 29.

    Dean Windass has made many people in Hull very happy after that wonderful volley. Even in the awful 90's, he lit up Boothferry Park.

    Couldn't agree more


  • Comment number 30.

    The pun was ripe for the picking:
    'Oldham by name, Oldham by nature.'

    Dean Windass, at 39, appears to have a great future ahead of him! Good article.

  • Comment number 31.

    I remember Dean playing for Bradford against Oldham a few seasons ago, in a match that Oldham had to win to stay up. Since Bradford were mid-table and nothing left to play for 10 of their players didn't bother to contribute to the game, the exeption was Dean Windass, who tried (in vein) to single hanadly relegate us. The team who went down that season was Torquay and look where they are now.

    Dean Windass is a true pro and a footballing hero to many (my friend who supports Aberdeen still raves to this day how good he was). Although yet to score for Oldham, his touch and awarness on the pitch has already paid off for us with a number of assists and its only a matter of time before he breaks his duck, hopefully in front of the cameras this weekend against the league leaders.

  • Comment number 32.

    A fantastic strike by Windass at Wembley got Hull City into the top tier for the first time in their history.

    For Tigers fans, that's enough to earn him 'great' status.

    All you other guys can call him whatever you want.

  • Comment number 33.

    Windass didn't score against Portsmouth, it was a Pamarot own goal.

  • Comment number 34.

    saw deano play for boro at highbury.

    while he was rubbish at football that day he was absolutely world class in driving strike partner Alain Boksic to the verge of a mental breakdown

    Boksics was used to playing with papin et al at marseille and hadnt accounted deanos "economy of movement" as pass after pass was wasted

    the greatest sublime-ridiculous forward partnership i ever saw...bravo deano

  • Comment number 35.

    im a bradford fan and i have got to say windass is a footballing genius..... with a very bad attitude. he single handidly kept us in league 1, but caused many dressing room rifts with his "i am" attitude, but was undoubtidly one of our best ever strikers. good luck dean- wish you'd of re-signed for us instead of going to oldham

  • Comment number 36.

    Well done deano, picking the right team to play for!!

    It's good (and refreshing) to see a player wanting to play for the first team at another club, rather than sitting it out at a premier league outfit and collect the money.
    I remember a few years ago a certain Man U player (went by the nickname of chocky i think !!) refusing all advances made by lower league clubs, even though it was obvious his main career at that team had passed by and that he was only a squad player (when squads didn't exist !!)

    Just wish Paul Scoles would realise his boyhood dream, his talents would be best served every week under shezza than as a bit part player under Mr Ferguson, come on in Paul the time is right.

  • Comment number 37.

    number 23

    Pffft, True role model?

    He was sent off THREE times in one game. And as for his antics on Fifa Fair play day towards John Finnigan, just shows what an imbecile he was. He scored a few decent goals but many footballers, both average and poor, have. Im surprised someone has even bothered to mention him on BBC let alone written a full blog about him.

    And im surprised no ones mentioned the Marlon King incident from last year?

    The mans a total imbecile and liability

  • Comment number 38.

    Windass was a legend at Aberdeen, he was a real character, always giving 100% for the cause. Players like Dean and Di Canio are few and far between in the modern game. the game is poorer as an entertainment as a result.There was talk of him returning to Aberdeen recently,I would bite your hand off for that to happen. A great pro and a real character. Legent status at Pittodrie. All the best Deano.

  • Comment number 39.

    Great article...and now you can add Deano the keeper and legendary staus at BP after that game against Leicester. Could of easily been 3 pionts but fair play to Windass can't keep him out of the news at the mo!

  • Comment number 40.

    I think Deano may have been referring to Corporal Jones as the character from Dad's Army - mustache and flat cap!

    Just to add a comment to the debate about Windass the footballer. There's no doubt that he has (or had) above average ability, although his temperament could let him down on occasions. But his technique was there for all to see at Wembley last year. Not many footballers could have scored a goal like that on a big stage in those circumstances.

    He reminds me very much of another Hull legend, Ken Wagstaffe, who also displayed coolness and technique when it mattered. (similar build too ;OD) Waggy could and should have played at a higher level than the old Division 2.

  • Comment number 41.

    What windyarsey did next? I don't know...Get sent off 4 times in one game???


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