Dean Austin, hardly a household name at the peak of his playing career, the former Southend, Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Woking defender is most remembered for being number 35 of the Times Online poll of worst footballers to ever play in the Premier League. He now finds himself a coach under George Burley at former club Crystal Palace.
Austin ended his playing career as club captain of Woking after he was unable to obtain a new deal at the end of the 2002/03 season at the age of 33. He had just ensured survival for the surrey club it what was then called the Conference National now the Blue Square Premier Bet Premier. After a brief spell managing in the Conference South he returned to the Football League as a coach with former club Southend United in 2007. Following their relegation the previous season and under the management of Steve Tilson, Austin helped the club achieve a playoff position in League 1 where they were beaten convincingly by Doncaster. Early into the following season he left Roots Hall to become Assistant manager under Brendan Rodgers at Watford. After Watford finished 13th in the Championship in the 2008/09 he followed Rodgers to Reading to take over the helm from Steve Coppell, along with Frank Lampard Senior who filled a football consultant role at both clubs. Austin’s nomadic coaching career continued as he followed Rodgers and Lampard Sr out of the Madejski stadium after Rodgers contract was ended by mutual consent in December 2009. He was to return to football in June of this year as first team coach at financially troubled Crystal Palace.
His appointment appears to be well received with the Eagles faithful. On the official Crysta Palace website comments have been quick to praise their former defender. One saying “Deano has been assistant manager at a couple of clubs and seems to know his stuff, so having him as first team coach looks like a great move.” Fondly remembered at Selhurst Park by some for his reverse clap it looks like he is being welcomed home with open arms to a club where some are proud to refer to his playing days as a talisman like. So perhaps he has found success and appreciation in his new career. And if he were ever to find himself back in the Premier League, this time in the dugout, he may be regarded more highly than the 35th worst player to take to the field in England’s top division.