Birmingham vs Aston Villa: Dion Dublin reveals why Second City derby is so fierce

Dion Dublin knows all about the passion of a ­Second City derby – he’s fallen victim to it.

Sixteen years ago, Aston Villa’s spearhead left his ­boss, team-mates and supporters open-mouthed in disbelief when he butted Birmingham City’s Robbie Savage.

It was out of character for the normally even-tempered striker.

And, even though he might have been carrying out the ­secret wishes of hundreds of thousands of Aston Villa fans, it wasn’t the wisest of moves.

A typically tight game was goalless at the time, but the Blues ended up winning 2-0, ­leaving Dublin to make a public apology less than 24 hours later.

Dublin aims a butt at Savage

And, even though they are now pals, Dublin said that ­moment sums up what can happen once the white line is crossed on Second City derby day.

He said: “I’ve played in a few, the Manchester derby, Celtic versus Rangers – and ­Birmingham City versus Aston Villa is every bit as passionate. Perhaps even more so.

“On the day, it comes down to who controls that passion – and, obviously, I didn’t.

“In general, I loved playing in it. But when people talk to me about that incident and that match, what they don’t ­understand is that Sav spoke to me in the tunnel beforehand and said, ‘Dion, can I have your shirt afterwards?’

Savage reacts to the blow

“I said, ‘Sure, Sav’ and that was it. We were at Manchester United together, of course, he can have it. Anyway, it’s the second-half and I remember going in for a tackle on him.

“I was about three seconds late. I wasn’t just a bit late. It was a rubbish tackle. I was bang out of order and I ­deserved a yellow card. It was absolutely my fault.

“But there was no contact at all. Robbie saw me coming and leapt into the air – he was ­almost in orbit he was that high off the ground!

“When he eventually came down, I went over and was ­trying to apologise because I knew it was late.

Dublin was forced to apologise publicly for the butt

“Sav, as Sav does, said a few bits and bobs to me. There were a few expletives coming in my direction – he pressed the right button at the right time and he got a reaction.

“I suppose I couldn’t believe it. First, he wants my shirt. Then, an hour later, he’s jumped 10ft in the air and not been caught by my, admittedly bad, tackle. To cap it all, he’s giving me dog’s abuse. However, I’ve been asked this many times and I do want to make the point that there was no racism involved. None at all.

“It was just Robbie being Robbie. The red mist came down and I must have thought to myself, ‘Why not?’

“I always loved playing in the derby.

“As far as passion is concerned, it’s there all right.”

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