Being named skipper is huge says new Dundee United captain

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Sean Dillon has spoken of his pride at being made Dundee United captain.

But the Irishman insists performances, not his new armband, will be what dictates whether or not he’s in manager Jackie McNamara’s line-ups.

As a six-year Tannadice veteran, he’s well aware of some of the names who’ve held the job he now holds.

That left him feeling honoured when McNamara asked him to succeed Jon Daly as pre-season got under way.

“When you say captain of Dundee United, the name I think of first is Paul Hegarty,” he says.

“Having been here a while now, I know a bit about our history and when you see what he achieved as skipper, you realise it’s something to live up to.

“And if I come up to date, there have been some big characters as captain.

“There was Barry Robson, Lee Wilkie, Andy Webster and then Jon. You’re talking about very good players who did the job very well and I enjoyed playing with them.

“I’ll take something from all of them in the way I do the job.”

Privileged as he feels to be handed the role, Dillon does not want to overplay it.

“When Jon said he was going to Rangers, a few people said to me I could be captain.

“It was something I batted away because I didn’t want to let myself think about it.

“We’ve got lads like John Rankin, Stuart Armstrong and Gavin Gunning who could have been made captain and I couldn’t have complained.

“And Paul Paton was the manager’s skipper at Partick Thistle, so he could have been handed it as well.

“Ranks is a leader on the park, Stuart has done the job for Scotland U/21 and Gav had to be in with a shout.

“What they’ve achieved hasn’t changed and what any team needs are leaders on the park, not just one man doing the shouting.

“When Jon was here, he wasn’t the only one leading by talking or setting an example – that won’t change.

“It’s not the armband that makes you a leader, it’s how you conduct yourself on the park and these boys are leaders.”

Dillon also knows he must keep producing the form that’s made him a firm favourite with fans if he wants to be leading the team out regularly.

He wouldn’t want that any other way.

“I want to continue to be known as a player who earns his place in the team by playing well. It wouldn’t be right I was only playing because I was captain.”

Turning his attention to another sport for a moment, he admits that stance led to mixed emotions a few weeks back.

They came as he was following rugby and the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

When skipper Sam Warburton was injured in the second test, Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll had been expected to take over.

Not only wasn’t he chosen, one of the biggest sporting heroes in the Emerald Isle was dropped from the team altogether.

That left Dillon disagreeing with Lions’ coach Warren Gatland’s judgement but not his reasoning.

“Like most people back home, I was gutted when O’Driscoll was dropped because I thought he was good enough to play.

“Warren Gatland took a lot of stick but when he explained he picked the 15 best players first and then decided on who the captain should be, I had to agree with him.

“He was proved right because the Lions won but that doesn’t really matter. What does is that the manager in any team sport makes sure he puts out what he believes is his strongest available team.

“That should always come first and being skipper can’t guarantee you a place.”

With Jackie McNamara a Dillon admirer, we can expect him to be leading United out on a weekly basis, once he’s recovered from ankle surgery.

Dillon is hopeful that will be this week in Spain when United face San Roque on Friday.

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