This ‘Classic Headliner’ piece is from 90 Minutes magazine:
Born the son of a Swansea barber on June 21, 1964, Dean Saunders is fondly remembered locally as the man who they let go for nothing. It was John Bond’s fault, apparently. As manager of the Swans he said something about the area having no local talent, imported a squad of lower-League journeymen and off-loaded Deano to Brighton on a free transfer.
A striker of exceptional finishing and movement, Dean Saunders had a prolific first season at the Goldstone Ground in 1985/86. He powered in nineteen goals as well as scooping the ‘Player of the Season’ award. Here is the Brighton v Peterborough FA Cup Replay where Saunders gets the winner, and looks ever so pleased in the post-match interview:
However, he was a marked man the following season, played out of position on the right wing, and went sixteen matches without a goal. And in a similar vein to what happened at Swansea, new boss Barry Lloyd imported a squad of less than stellar players (inexperienced local lads and non-Leaguers) and off-loaded Deano to Oxford United for just £60,000 in March 1987. The 90 Minutes feature continues:
Saunders was made for better things. After spells at Brighton and Oxford, he joined Derby County in October 1988, scoring 42 goals in 106 League and cup games. His pace was a tremendous asset, as was his eagerness to have a dig from anywhere vaguely in the opposition half. But at Liverpool, Graeme Souness’s side lacked balance and consistency and, for the first time in his career, his goal ratio dipped to only one every four games. As if that wasn’t enough, he was dragged through the courts and mauled by the press over the tackle that ended the career of Chelsea’s Paul Elliot.
By this time, Villa had seen Big Ron and Deano come and go and the latest twist now has Saunders rejoining Graeme Souness at Galatasaray for £1.5million, scoring freely and considerably happier with his lot than Mike Marsh, for one. And a gratis Ford Escort is not the only bonus. Should his latest offspring choose to play the beautiful game, he or she could claim dual nationality and be saved the frustration of playing international football for Wales.
He eventually returned to the UK, to play for Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United, scoring one of the cheekiest goals ever seen:
After spells with Benfica and Bradford City, he embarked on a coaching and managerial career, being in charge at Wrexham, Doncaster and Wolves. His last game as boss was in Wanderers’ 5-1 defeat at the Amex to Gus Poyet’s side in 2012/13, a result that relegated Wolverhampton to the third tier for only the second time. And yes, the first occasion was in 1984/85 thanks to another 5-1 loss against… you’ve guessed it, Brighton at the Goldstone. As a fellow Welsh star Shirley Bassey sang, it was just a case of history repeating…