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Claudio Caniggia and Dundee: Steven Milne recalls Argentine great’s arrival 21 years on

Claudio Caniggia arrived at Dundee in October 2000.

Steve Milne reckons he could write a book about his extraordinary beginning to his football career at Ivano Bonetti’s Dundee.

The Dundonian had made a couple of appearances for the Dark Blues under John McCormack as a 17-year-old in 1997.

However, it wasn’t until the Italian revolution that he saw regular first-team action.

And he had a front row seat to the opening overture of a club legend as Claudio Caniggia made an instant mark on the club.

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the Argentine great’s Dark Blues debut.

On October 14, 2000, Milne had earned his first start for the club under Bonetti and saw his player-manager open the scoring at Pittodrie.

The young striker’s day was cut short at half-time, however, as he was replaced by Caniggia for the second half.

Having only been in the country a matter of days, Caniggia wasted no time in announcing himself to Scottish football with a wonderful second goal late on to defeat Aberdeen.

‘He didn’t have to do that’

He may have taken his place in the team that day but Milne says the experience of working with such a global superstar was invaluable.

There was a real connection between the two and Milne recalls celebrations in the dressing-room after a win at Ibrox vividly.

“I got on really well with Claudio,” Milne said.

“We would spend a lot of time together and chat a lot.

Caniggia takes on Hearts.

“He spent a lot of time helping us young strikers, constantly giving time and effort to help us out.

“This guy had scored in a World Cup semi-final a few years before, he didn’t have to do that.

“But, the type of guy he is, he had loads of time for us.

“I played up front with him a few times, too. I remember winning at Ibrox where he scored the opening goal and then I got the second.

Ian Ferguson tackles Milne as Caniggia watches on.

“After the game he walked into the dressing-room and just gave me a great big hug.

“As a young kid it was amazing to play with him. It was surreal at times, too.”

‘Nemsadze and Caniggia – you can’t really believe that happened!’

Milne would go on to play in a Scottish Cup Final for the Dark Blues, finished in the top six and helped the club win promotion.

He would also later win two Challenge Cups and fire St Johnstone to the First Division title, helping them win promotion to the top flight in 2009 where they have stayed ever since.

“I had some great times at Dundee,” he added.

“We got promoted a couple of times, I played with all those great players, we got the top six, a cup final – so many good memories.

Nemsadze and Caniggia embrace at Tannadice.

“I had come back from loan at Forfar and was just in the first team as the Bonettis took over.

“It was a very interesting time – you could write a book about all that happened.

“Looking back now it was probably the best time of my career. I mean, just thinking about all the great players I played with.

“Guys like Georgi Nemsadze and Claudio Caniggia – you can’t really believe that happened now thinking back!”

 

Claudio Caniggia: Our new documentary on the signing which lit up Dundee 20 years ago