Dangerous spiral for Dalian Atkinson after fleeting but memorable career

Dalian Atkinson, who died at the age of 48 on Monday of heart failure after being Tasered by police on Monday, was the proverbial journeyman, playing at 10 clubs in six countries over a 16-year career. The most games he played for a club was 85 for Aston Villa, but he is forever remembered by English fans for the goal scored for Villa  in 1992, the first year of the English Premier League.

Atkinson scored a goal in the tradition of the great Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, winning a 50-50 ball deep in Villa's half and picking up speed as he slalomed through the Wimbledon defense only to loft a delicate chip over Dons keeper Hans Segers for the goal.

The goal won Atkinson Match of the Day's first of goal of the season award, but it was not the most important goal of his career. He scored the winner for Villa in 1994 when it beat Manchester United with Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs, 3-1, to win the League Cup.

The next year Atkinson and Villa striker partner Dean Saunders were sold to clubs in Turkey, but Atkinson never settled in at Fenerbahce and his career went downhill. He finished up at clubs in Saudi Arabia and South Korea, far from the spotlight of the EPL, which he helped christen.

Early Monday morning, police were called to the home of Atkinson's father in the town of Telford in the West Midlands.

“He was very agitated and his mind was upset,” Ernest Atkinson told the Shropshire Star. “The last thing he said to me was ‘don’t move’ when the police came to the door. He was threatening and very upset. I didn’t call the police but someone else did. He got Tasered in the street outside in the road. I didn’t see him but I saw a flash.”

A neighbor, Paula Quinn, told the Shropshire Star that Dalian Atkinson appeared to be staggering before he was Tasered and he went down "like a lead balloon" after being hit.

"I am feeling a bit sick knowing that the poor lad has passed," she said. "I don't care what anybody has done. Nobody deserves to die as a result of something like that."

Atkinson suffered from kidney problems and had a bad heart.

"He had some health issues that he was trying to get through and that's why his heart was weak," his nephew Fabian Atkinson told the Shropshire Star. "When a Taser is deployed, as soon as a Taser is deployed, they need to automatically call an ambulance. How do they know the health of the guy or the girl that they are affecting?"

Ron Atkinson -- no relation -- coached Dalian Atkinson at Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa.

"He always had a smile on his face," he said, "and played football with a smile on his face. He was popular in the dressing room, had terrific ability and did it in the big games. He did very well for me."

Coping with the end of his career wasn't easy for Dalian Atkinson.

"It can be difficult for players when they finish and I know Dalian found it difficult," Carlton Palmer told Press Association Sport. "Footballers don't know anything else. Dalian would not have finished his career financially secure and he was scratching around doing stuff.

"When you finish as a footballer, all of a sudden at 34 or 35 you have no routine and no structure to your life, and that can be a major problem. It can be a very dangerous spiral and unfortunately that's what it was for Dalian."
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