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Liam Fontaine says promotion with Dundee is on a par with Scottish Cup triumph – and out-of-contract defender is desperate to be part of Premiership adventure

Liam Fontaine celebrates promotion.
Liam Fontaine celebrates promotion.

Liam Fontaine has won the Scottish Cup, he’s won leagues, played in Europe and been promoted on multiple occasions north and south of the border.

An impressive career that’s seen the defender excel for Bristol City, Hibernian and Ross County, Fontaine has had plenty fine moments of success to savour.

However, he says winning promotion with Dundee and proving doubters wrong as a 35-year-old is just as special as lifting the cup at Hampden.

Last year he was discarded by Premiership Ross County, released on a free transfer in October after being left out of the Staggies matchday squad for their opening 10 matches.

That rejection lit a fire under Fontaine to prove he could still cut it at the top level.

Liam Fontaine lifts the Scottish Cup for Hibs.

And a phonecall from the man he replaced in central defence at Hibs, James McPake, at Dens Park was just the opportunity he was looking for.

Making his debut during a poor night at Ayr United, Fontaine quickly began to help shore up the Dark Blues backline.

And he showed his real worth with a superb performance in the play-off win at Kilmarnock on Monday night.

That saw Dundee win promotion back to the Premiership next season – an achievement Fontaine ranks with the best moments of his career.

“This is up there for me on a personal level,” he said.

“I left County early on in the season and the gaffer called me and said: ‘I want you at Dundee, maybe we can do something here, I think you’re the sort of good character that we need’.

Liam Fontaine blocks from Kyle Lafferty.

“It was a little personal challenge for myself. I knew I had the hunger. That would never ever fade for me.

“I am one of these players who is 100% when they join a club.

“Do you know what? On a personal note it is up there for me.

“When you leave places you have got people to prove wrong. You have those little things driving you on.

“That is why it is special for me.”

‘I would love to be here next season’

Signing in the middle of a pandemic, the 35-year-old signed a short-term deal at Dens until the end of the season in October.

That contract may have come to an end but Fontaine doesn’t want his time at Dundee to be over.

Because he thinks the Dark Blues can do well in the top flight, using a blueprint set out by one of their local neighbours.

Asked about his contract situation, Fontaine said: “I would obviously love to be here and I hope something can get sorted.”

On the top flight, he added: “The Premiership is a tough league. I have played in it.

“But St Johnstone this year have done very, very well. They have been the team of the season, double cup winners and top six.

“They are a good blueprint for a lot of teams in the Premiership, have shown how to go about it.

“Everyone has got their way of playing. But if we keep the togetherness, add a couple of players and you never know what you can do.

“We lost to St Johnstone and Hibs in the cups, but the performances against them were OK.

“In the back end of the season, in the last two and a half months, we have been a very good team.

“We knew it was going to be tough. Kilmarnock have been a Premiership team for a long, long time. They have got some good experience in their team.

But we were hungry. We wanted it. We thought about it. We dreamt about it.

“It was in our mind what our target was from early in the season.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to do it.”

Delayed summer

Most of the squad are now heading into their summer break happy at a job well done.

Fontaine’s work for the season, though, isn’t quite finished as he looks beyond his playing days.

“I have got my UEFA A Licence assessment to do first before I can enjoy it,” he said.

“But I will get a well-deserved break. It has been a tough season with the way things have been with Covid, no fans and the way we have had to travel to games and training.

“I don’t know how we have created that vibe we have among us, that togetherness, because we haven’t really had the dressing-room like we usually have.

Fontaine celebrates with Cammy Kerr.

“All the banter that goes on in dressing-rooms hasn’t really been there.

“Credit to everybody, the gaffer for bring everyone together.

“Everyone was just fighting for each other. That was the message the other night – everyone was just going to be a great team-mate.

“You could see it.”