This week marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Everton striker Dixie Dean, who holds the record for the most league goals scored in a season.
Full name William Ralph Dean, his staggering total of 60 goals in one campaign is unlikely to ever be surpassed. Dean also represented England 16 times during his career, bagging an impressive 18 goals.
Presenter John Keith was a close friend of Dean and is in agreement that the incredible tally that the Birkenhead man set in the 1927-28 season will stand the test of time.
He said: “There are very few records that you can say will never be broken. But the game has changed so much now. I can’t see anyone getting anywhere near 60 goals.
“In fact, you can speculate as to how many teams would manage 60 goals in a Premier League season. From the middle downwards probably none of them. So that goes to show just what a feat it was.
“He was in a league of his own. I still think he would score a lot of goals today. He had the indefinable something.”
Keith recalled the day that Dixie Dean died in March 1980, at a Merseyside derby. He explained: “I was offered to bring a top table to the match. So here was my table, listen to this: Billy Liddell, Brian Labone, Bill Shankly and Dixie.
“Before the match, Shanks came out with an incredible tribute, a eulogy to Dixie. He said 'he belongs in the company of the supremely great like Beethoven, Rembrandt and Shakespeare.'
“In the 78th minute Everton scored and as Dixie went to celebrate he collapsed in his chair and when we got him down to ground level he was pronounced dead.
“On the way up to the game Shanks and I asked Dixie when the last time he had been to a derby was. He told us the last time he was at a derby, he was playing. So he hadn’t been to a derby since the 1930’s. If you had written it, it would be dismissed of as sheer fantasy.
“It was unbelievable that fate would write a story like that but there he was dying at the very stage at which he had become this legend.
“We later realised that Shankly had spoken Dixie’s obituary to him hours before his death. It is absolutely amazing. The whole day was. I’ll never forget it.”
By Gary Maiden, Sports Reporter
A painting of Dixie Dean on Goodison Road (jim's pics, Flickr); YouTube: A tribute to the Everton legend