The Big Interview - Julian Dicks

When it comes to a free-kick masterclass they would not come much better than seeing Dimitri Payet up against Hammers legend Julian Dicks.

Dicks was among the best free-kick takers of his generation and scored a number of unstoppable goals from set-plays.

After scoring memorable free-kicks against Bournemouth and Blackburn, Payet saved his best of the season when he struck a superb effort past David de Gea into the top corner during the FA Cup quarter-final draw at Manchester United on Sunday and has also shown he can be the master of taking a free-kick.

Dicks has nothing but admiration for the way Payet has settled into his new surroundings and feels he will only grow stronger for the Club.


You were one of the masters of taking free-kicks during your playing days. How do you compare to Dimitri? Is it down to technique or years or practising?

JD: “My free-kicks were different to Dimitri's. My ones were about power and I scored a good one against Nottingham Forest (back in April 1995) which was better than Dimitri's on Sunday!!

“It is just about technique and timing. But Dimitri practices every day.”


You scored some unbelievable goals from set-plays during your career. How highly did you rate Dimitri's goal at Old Trafford on Sunday.

JD: “Every time we seem to get a free-kick he seems to put it in the back of the net. It is incredible how many goals he has scored from free-kicks and they are all in the top corner as well!

“It was a fantastic free-kick that he scored against Manchester United.”


Why do you feel Dimitri has settled in so quickly and what makes him stand out as one of the best players in the Premier League this season?

JD: “For all the ability that Dimitri has got, he works hard for the team as well which for me makes him stand out even more.

“Apart from his ability his work-rate is really good as well and hopefully he can keep producing this form. He is a fantastic player, but is a good lad as well and hopefully it can continue.”


Dimitri has already won the Premier League Player of the Year at the London Football Awards. Do you think he should be a contender for the PFA Footballer of the Year?

JD: “There are not many people who are above him. Players don't think about things like that and take it day-to-day and game by game.

“For me he has probably been our player of the season so far.”


Slaven said the players were silent in the dressing room after the United game but there are many teams who come away from Old Trafford disappointed to have only got a draw. How impressed were you with the performance?

JD: “There was a bit of disappointment in the dressing room and that is a good thing. Whatever people say about Manchester United they are still a massive club and still have very good players.

“Over the ninety minutes I thought a draw was a fair result.”


You have played in some big games under the lights in east London. How special is the replay going to be against Manchester United?

JD: “It is going to be the last ever cup tie and I have played against Manchester United under the lights.

“We drew 2-2 and that was a special night. Playing Spurs under the lights is special as well but this game to see who makes it through to the semi-finals is going to be special as well.”


One of the biggest games you played in was the 2-2 draw against United at the Boleyn Ground and that amazing penalty you blasted past Peter Schmeichel. Do you still have fond memories of that occasion?

JD: “I remember the fans were fantastic and they always have been. I remember we went 2-0 down and we thought we were going to get our backsides kicked.

“But Harry brought on (Florin) Raducioiu who scored a great goal. The crowd got behind us and you start believing.

“Fortunately we got a penalty which I scored. It was one penalty I was not going to miss!”


There are not many teams who come away from Old Trafford feeling the way the players did after the game. Does that show you how far the Club have come this season?

JD: “We are fifth in the table and we cannot fear anybody. We have beaten the biggest sides.

“We end up disappointed that we have only got a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford and that tells you the belief in the players so we fancy playing against anyone.”


Should the Club be dreaming about going to Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals next month?

JD: “We will be the favourites to win the game at the Boleyn Ground so there will be a bit of pressure there but the players know what to expect and if they get after Manchester United it is going to be a good game. Why can't we dream of Wembley?”