Dalian Robert Atkinson (21 March 1968 – 15 August 2016) was an English footballer who played as a striker. During his club football career, he played in England for Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa and Manchester City, winning the Football League Cup at Villa in 1994. He also played for many teams abroad; in Spain for Real Sociedad, in France for Metz, in Turkey for Fenerbahçe, in Saudi Arabia for Al-Ittihad, and in South Korea for Daejeon Citizen and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Atkinson in 2008
|Full name||Dalian Robert Atkinson|
|Date of birth||21 March 1968|
|Place of birth||Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England|
|Date of death||15 August 2016(aged 48)|
|Place of death||Telford, Shropshire, England|
|1996||→ Metz (loan)||0||(0)|
|1996–1997||→ Manchester City (loan)||8||(2)|
|2001||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors||4||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Atkinson first came to prominence at Ipswich Town as a teenager, impressing seasoned experts with his speed and daring, which included a hat-trick against a Middlesbrough side containing Gary Pallister and future Ipswich captain Tony Mowbray at the heart of their defence, in the 1987–88 season.
In 1989, manager Ron Atkinson (no relation) brought him to Sheffield Wednesday for £450,000 where he formed a fine front partnership with David Hirst for a single season. He was an ever-present in the league for Sheffield Wednesday in his only season there, scoring 10 goals but being unable to prevent them from being relegated.
After relegation he was sold to Real Sociedad for £1.7 million. The San Sebastián-based team had recently broken a tradition of only signing local players in order to bring fellow British players John Aldridge and Kevin Richardson to the club, making Atkinson their third foreigner and also the first black player in Real Sociedad's history. He was nicknamed El txipiron (The squid) by Sociedad fans during the 1990–91 season. His team did not have a good year, although Atkinson made a good contribution over the season, scoring 12 goals in La Liga. Atkinson was racially abused by opposition fans during his time in Spain.
Atkinson joined Aston Villa for £1.6 million in July 1991, and became one half of another impressive partnership alongside Dean Saunders, when Saunders arrived from Liverpool a year after Atkinson arrived there from Real Sociedad. The partnership was broken up in 1995 when both players were sold to Turkish clubs – Saunders to Galatasaray and Atkinson to Fenerbahçe for £1.7 million.
Atkinson is probably most often remembered for his magnificent solo goal against Wimbledon in a 3–2 away win on 3 October 1992, which won Match of the Day's Goal of the Season award for the 1992–93 season, the first season of the new FA Premier League, when Villa finished runners-up. Starting deep in the Aston Villa half of the pitch with a one-touch trap from a lofted ball that immediately took him away from a defending player, Atkinson then skipped past two more Wimbledon players and, pausing briefly as he reached the edge of the opposition penalty area, produced a delicately arched chip-shot that floated over the rushing goalkeeper. Atkinson also had the distinction of scoring Villa's first Premier League goal, when he scored their late equaliser in a 1–1 draw at Ipswich on the opening day of the season.
Atkinson is remembered by Aston Villa fans for his goal in the 1994 League Cup final win against Manchester United, and that he scored twice in the semi finals against Tranmere Rovers (once in the first leg and once in the second).
Atkinson missed Villa's departure for a 1994 pre-season tour of South Africa because of what was described as "personal problems." When Ron Atkinson left and was replaced as manager by Brian Little, he fell out of favour. In July 1995, Atkinson arrived in Istanbul to agree a deal with Fenerbahçe S.K.. Atkinson failed to settle in Turkey and had loan spells with Metz and Manchester City. Atkinson left the club in 1997 and ended his career with stints in Saudi Arabia and South Korea, finally retiring as a player in 2001. He returned to Telford where he ultimately lived at Little Dawley. In his last years his health suffered with heart and kidney problems.
Atkinson died on 15 August 2016 after being tasered by police near his father's house in Trench, Telford. Police had responded to a call as Atkinson threatened to kill his father, Ernest. Atkinson's older brother Kenroy said "My brother had lost it. He was in a manic state and depressed – out of his mind and ranting. He had a tube in his shoulder for the dialysis and he had ripped it out and was covered in blood. He got dad by the throat and said he was going to kill him. He told dad he had already killed me, our brother Paul and sister Elaine and he had come for him." After being tasered, Atkinson went into cardiac arrest on the way to the Princess Royal Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 03:00. He was 48. The incident was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
His former manager at Wednesday and Villa, Ron Atkinson, called the incident an "out-and-out tragedy" and noted that Dalian "had terrific ability". Atkinson's Humanist funeral took place at Telford Crematorium on 19 November 2016, followed by interment of his ashes at Hadley Cemetery.
In November 2019, one police officer was charged with murder in connection with Atkinson's death; another was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Both officers were due to stand trial in September 2020 but because of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial was set for 12 April 2021.
- "Player Details: Dalian Robert Atkinson". Turkish Football Federation. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
- Dalian Atkinson at Soccerbase
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- Urretavizcaya, Oscar (1 August 1990). "La Real Sociedad ficha a Atkinson, su tercer extranjero" [Real Sociedad sign Atkinson, their third foreigner]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 May 2020.
- Weaver, Matthew; Dodd, Vikram (15 August 2016). "Former footballer Dalian Atkinson dies after police shoot him with Taser". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "El ex realista Dalian Atkinson muere tras un incidente con la policía". Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 15 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- Kennedy, Peter; Kennedy, David (2017). Fan Culture in European Football and the Influence of Left Wing Ideology. Taylor & Francis. p. 151. ISBN 9781351668354. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
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- Ridley, Ian (13 August 1995). "Club-by-club guide: The prospects, the players to watch, the arrivals and departures". The Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- "Dalian Atkinson dies after being Tasered in Telford by police". BBC News. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Dalian Atkinson: Former Aston Villa striker's 1992 goal of the season". Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Milestone moments in run to 1,000 Premier League goals". Aston Villa F.C. 24 March 2013. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Dalian Atkinson, former Aston Villa striker, 'dies after Taser shot'". Sky Sports. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Aston Villa: Who remembers this classic game 22 years ago?". Birmingham Mail. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- Bonesteel, Matt (15 August 2016). "Former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson dies after getting Tased by police in England". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Ex-Villa Star Dies in Taser Shooting". Shropshire Star. 16 August 2016. p. 1.Special Report by Jordan Reynolds and Mark Andrews.
- "Ex-Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson threatened to kill his father before being tasered by police, brother reveals". The Daily Telegraph. 16 August 2016.
- Gibbons, Brett (15 August 2016). "Ex-Villa star Dalian Atkinson dies after being Tasered by police". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Incident referred to IPCC following death of man in Telford". Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- Dickens, James (15 August 2016). "Dalian Atkinson was 'threatening and very upset' prior to police tazer death says father". Yahoo. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Latest updates on Atkinson death". BBC News. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Dalian Atkinson: Police officer charged with footballer murder". BBC News. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.