There are just two days until the premiere of our exciting new documentary about Claudio Caniggia’s sensational spell at Dundee.
Caniggia: 20 Years On lifts the lid on the switch that stunned the footballing world, with contributions from former team-mates and boardroom big-hitters involved in the deal.
Making the film also evoked memories of other blockbuster Dark Blues transfers.
In the final instalment of a two-part feature, Ian Roache delivers his verdict on Dundee’s top five greatest signings.
5: JOHN ‘SAILOR’ HUNTER – signed from Portsmouth 1907.
We are going back a bit here but if you score the winning goal in – so far – the club’s only Scottish Cup victory then you deserve a mention.
That second replay victory over Clyde is Hunter’s claim to fame but he also scored four goals en route to lifting the trophy, including the winner against Hibs in the semi-final.
Hunter was part of the Dundee side that finished league runners-up by one point behind Celtic the year before.
“Sailor” scored 60 goals in 107 appearances and was capped by Scotland against Wales while at Dens.
4: ALFIE BOYD – signed from St Johnstone 1947.
Another true legend, Boyd made the short move from Muirton Park and became an instant success at Dundee.
He captained the Dark Blues to two successive League Cup final victories, in 1951 and 52.
Boyd even scored the last-minute winning goal as the Dens men lifted the first of those trophies against Rangers in front of a massive Hampden crowd.
He made 169 appearances for Dundee as was an integral part of a famous halfback line that also included Tommy Gallacher and Doug Cowie.
3: GORDON SMITH – signed from Hearts 1961.
One of the classiest players ever to grace a Scottish football park, Smith has a list of achievements to match his style.
He was seen as the special ingredient that turned Bob Shankly’s Dundee side into champions after joining from Hearts.
Smith at the age of 38 was a senior statesman, who brought calm and composure to the Dark Blues’ play.
He laid on many a ball for the great Alan Gilzean and would go on to play 100 times in three seasons for the club.
The season after winning the championship, he made no fewer than 48 appearances including a European Cup semi-final when he was aged 39.
Smith holds a remarkable personal record of winning the Scottish title with three different clubs, having already been a champion with Hibs and Hearts before becoming a Dee.
2: BILLY STEEL – signed from Derby County 1950.
Considered by many to be Dundee’s greatest-ever player, Steel is a true Scottish football legend.
He joined the Dark Blues for a then British transfer record fee of £23,500 from English club Derby County in 1950.
An inside forward, he played in the Great Britain side against a Rest of the World select in 1947 while still with the Rams and it was a real sensation when agreed to come back north to play for the Dens men.
He went on to win the League Cup with Dundee a year after arriving, setting up Alfie Boyd for the winner against Rangers in the final. He got a second winner’s medal a year later when they retained the trophy against Kilmarnock.
Steel amassed 30 Scotland caps and played 131 games for the club, scoring 45 goals.
1: CLAUDIO CANIGGIA – signed from Atalanta 2000.
“The Bird” is sitting at the top of the tree.
During Italia 90, Caniggia was quite simply one of the most famous people on the planet.
When he turned up at Dens Park a decade later, we were all pretty stunned.
Full of pace and skill, he scored two crucial goals as his country Argentina made it to the World Cup final in Italy, where they would lose out to Germany.
He also scored twice in the 1994 tournament in the United States, albeit that one didn’t turn out so well for the Argentinians.
Most important of all, though, he was Diego Maradona’s bestie.
If you are pals with arguably the greatest player ever to kick a ball then that’s a big enough deal in itself.
After joining the Dark Blues from Italian Serie A side Atalanta on a free transfer, Caniggia lit up Dens Park.
Manager Ivano Bonetti said when signed: “When Caniggia plays, everyone wants to watch for he is one of the biggest names in world football.” Let’s not argue with that.
This signing beats them all because it had glitz, glamour, intrigue and adventure. Caniggia also started a love affair with the Dundee fans that still lasts until this day.
Note: The list was compiled using the criteria that only players who joined Dundee from another senior club could be included. That made a chunk of the great league-winning side and other legends ineligible. Also, there are notable omissions that will cause controversy. Among those in contention were: Fabian Caballero, Robert Douglas, Jim Duffy, Leigh Griffiths, Georgi Nemsadze, Billy Pirie, Barry Smith, Morten Wieghorst and Bobby Wishart.