Fans’ favourite Dalian Atkinson helped Aston Villa lift the League Cup in 1994

Known for a love of fast cars, the ex-Premier League star scored Villa’s first ever Premier League goal.

Fans applaud in memory of Dalian Atkinson
Fans applaud in memory of Dalian Atkinson

Dalian Atkinson was a firm fans’ favourite at Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa, famously winning a Match Of The Day goal-of-the-season award in 1992/93 and opening the scoring for Villa against Manchester United in the 1994 League Cup Final.

After being signed by Wednesday from Ipswich for £450,000, the Shropshire-born forward scored 10 goals for the South Yorkshire club in 1989-90, earning a £1.7 million move to Spanish side Real Sociedad.

Following one season in Spain, which saw him score in an away win at Barcelona, Atkinson was then reunited with former Wednesday manager Ron Atkinson, who signed him for Aston Villa for £1.6 million in the summer of 1991.

Dalian Atkinson in action against QPR at Villa Park
Dalian Atkinson in action against QPR at Villa Park (David Jones/PA)

The then 24-year-old striker had the distinction of having scored Villa’s first Premier League goal with the equaliser against Ipswich in a 1-1 draw at Portman Road on August 15, 1992.

Just a few days later Atkinson scored the first goal in the new competition at Villa Park, netting against Leeds United.

Known during his playing days for his direct style and pace, as well as his love of fast cars, in recent years Atkinson had been in poor health.

The trial of the police officer accused of his murder was told the former sportsman was diagnosed with and given medication for raised blood pressure in the summer of 2012.

An ECG heart rhythm check showed he had a thickening of the heart muscle in the left ventricle, while tests detected impaired kidney function.

Then aged 44, Atkinson was prescribed medication for his high blood pressure but refused to take it, instead attempting to manage the condition by making changes to his diet.

His next recorded contact with health professionals was in March 2016, when he was admitted to Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital complaining of headaches, blurred vision, dizziness and generally feeling unwell.

Atkinson opens the scoring in the 1994 League Cup Final
Atkinson opens the scoring in the 1994 League Cup Final (Tony Harris/PA)

Doctors diagnosed acute kidney failure and malignant hypertension, and Atkinson was transferred to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital so he could be seen at an acute eye clinic.

He was then transferred to a High Dependency Unit and on March 7 2016 a decision was taken to start dialysis treatment.

After being discharged on March 12 with medication, Atkinson returned two days later to have an internal jugular line inserted to facilitate dialysis treatment given three times a week.

A week before his death, Atkinson was seen by his GP at his home after suffering chest pain and was judged to be in a life-threatening condition.

He was taken by ambulance to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, where an x-ray showed an enlarged heart, and he was given intravenous antibiotics for a chest infection.

He was discharged five days before his death, and attended his last dialysis appointment three days before being Tasered by police near his childhood home in Meadow Close, Telford.

Former Aston Villa manager Ron Atkinson holds the League Cup with Dalian Atkinson
Former Aston Villa manager Ron Atkinson holds the League Cup with Dalian Atkinson (Tony Harris/PA)

At Atkinson’s funeral, a humanist service in November 2016, the celebrant Peter Mansell described how, as a child, Atkinson played street football in Meadow Close with his brothers and friends.

While still at school, he was spotted by talent scouts, leading to his apprenticeship at Ipswich.

Mr Mansell said Atkinson loved the “playboy lifestyle” and was “energetic, cheeky and funny” but also “generous, caring and protective”.

A family man, he was “an inspiration to his nieces and nephews” and often went home “for his mother’s home cooking”.

Mr Mansell said: “There was no-one quite like Dalian. There never was before and there never will be again.

“For those who loved Dalian, a part of their world is gone.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News