Paul Dixon says he’ll be forever grateful to Jim Duffy for giving him his start in professional football at Dundee – even if his time working under the manager lasted only a handful of games.
The Scotland international and former Dark Blues and Dundee United left-back started a successful career as a youngster at Dens Park and could almost have a millennium managers series to himself.
His time on Tannadice Street has seen him play under Duffy, Alan Kernaghan and Alex Rae at Dundee before Craig Levein, Peter Houston and Ray McKinnon across the road.
Back in 2005, the Dark Blues had just been relegated to the second tier but kept Duffy in the job.
Dixon said: “I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me my first pro contract and my debut.
“He was very good, he made everything very clear on what he wanted. However, it was very short-lived with me – he was gone after about three games.”
Taking over was Alan Kernaghan with Billy Kirkwood as his assistant and, with finances tight, there were opportunities for talented youngsters like Dixon, Scott Robertson and Kevin McDonald to get much-needed first-team football.
“They were very good for me,” ‘Dicker’ added.
“Alan was a very nice guy, very serious with his football but when you are a manager of a football club you need that.
“Billy was a good foil for him, he was always among the banter in the dressing-room.
“He signed up seven of us young guys on longer contracts and I re-signed under him, too.”
Kernaghan left after less than a season in charge and was quickly replaced by Rae.
Dixon added: “I thoroughly enjoyed working under Alex Rae.
“He was very passionate and was very demanding, too – just like he was as a player.
“Davie Farrell was a good assistant and they were a good team. The gaffer was always training, he was still playing at that point, and so Faz took the training but when something needed sorted the gaffer wasn’t slow in telling us.
“He was not to be messed with.
“There was one time I remember after we got beaten where he got into such a state calling us everything under the sun and it went so far that he made himself burst out laughing with the rest of us.
“He moved on as well and I thought he would have got a job somewhere else but maybe it just didn’t suit him.”
Dixon made the switch across Tannadice Street to play for a man he says was the top boss across a 14-year (and counting) career.
“Craig Levein was the best manager I ever worked under, he was just brilliant.
“For me, he had a fear factor about him. It made sure you did your job because you knew if you didn’t you were getting a rocket – and he handed them out a lot!
“I think he’s chilled a bit since then but I’ve no doubt he still hands them out at Hearts.
“His demands are high and so was his attention to detail – that’s why he’s been so successful.
“I’m forever grateful to him for giving me my Scotland caps as well.
“My four years at United were the best I’ve played in my career.
“Not much changed after he left for Scotland because Houstie and Levein had obviously worked together for so long.
“Houstie was his own man but was similar to Levein in that if you were not up to scratch he let you know all about it.”