PAUL DICKOV COLUMN (+AUDIO): My life as a striker

I was a striker as far back as I can remember.

When you’re a young kid you have idols in the team you support and mine was Kenny Dalglish. He played up top and I wanted to go and play there.

No one worked harder in training that Ian Wright, says Paul Dickov

No one worked harder in training that Ian Wright, says Paul Dickov

In my career there were times when I played out wide, in midfield and I even played wing back for one manager who I don’t know what he was thinking. But I’ve always been a striker.

When it comes to managing strikers, I just try to fill them with confidence and belief. You’re going to miss chances but the important thing is that you don’t beat yourself up too much, you stay positive and always believe you’re going to get another one.

I had the best tutor in that way of thinking with Ian Wright at Arsenal. He always believed he was going to score, never let it bother him if he missed a chance and knew another one would come his way.

I’ve never seen anyone to this day who would work as hard as Ian Wright in training whether it was with the team or on his own. His enthusiasm rubbed off on me at a young age.

I was spoiled at Arsenal because I got to play alongside Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp. They were two completely different players but both absolutely world class.

Dennis for me was probably not just one of the best players I played with but one of the best I’ve ever seen. When he had the ball and you were making a run, you didn’t need to look to see where the ball was because you knew it was going to land at your feet. Putting him and Ian Wright in a team, it was lethal.

The best partnerships I had were with Shaun Goater at Man City and Brian Deane at Leicester. I used to do all the running and The Goat would shank it in off his shin 30 times a season, which wasn’t a bad talent to have.

I scored over 20 goals in the season we got promoted with Leicester and I think out of those, 14 came from Deano. I just knew if the ball went up to him I was going to get on the end of a flick-on.

I was never going to be a striker who would get the ball 40 yards out, beat four men and smash it in the top corner. I didn’t have it in my locker. I had to work hard on my finishing and I knew my main asset was being a pain in the backside, which came naturally.

Every day after training I used to stay out and practice finishing because I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to be successful.

Hard work is all I ask for and I’m probably harder on the strikers I manage because I played in that position. I demand shooting sessions aren’t a jolly up because we’ve got to keep our standards high. If they miss the target there will be a forfeit. It’s such an important part of the game. If you don’t score goals you don’t win games.