HE MAY be the most prolific goalscorer ever – but Everton legend Dixie Dean would not have coped with the modern game in which Lionel Messi thrives.
That’s the view of Everton fan Harry McLeish who was in the stands when Dean scored his record-setting 60th domestic goal way back in 1929, aged seven.
This year Barcelona’s Lionel Messi could beat the astounding 60 club goals plus seven international goals that Dean set 81 years ago.
Eyewitnesses have said Dixie was a better player than Messi – but McLeish, now 89, thinks that despite his legendary status, Dean would have been out of his depth in today’s game: “I don’t think he would have coped at all.
“When Dean played it was before the offside rule, so he could just stand on the keeper.
“Modern defenders are sneaky, and stop people playing or jumping from corners.
“Also Everton played with five up front – can you imagine Dean playing in a formation with one up front?”
Nevertheless, McLeish has fond memories of Dean’s play: “He was a fantastic man, never once sent off or yellow carded – he only ever spoke to the referee once in his whole playing career, and that was because the ref offered him a sweet.
“He had metal plates in his head because of the motorcycle accident, and he could head the ball off his temple like a cannon.
“People used to boo him if he didn’t score in a game – he used to average about three, and you could hear the roar all over Merseyside when he did.”