Patrizio Billio's Dundee career may have been short lived but that did not stop the Italian midfielders name from making not only the back page of the papers but also the front.
Initially signed in November 1999 by Jocky Scott, Billio's career got off to a flyer with Dundee which resulted in the midfielder putting pen to paper on a new three-year deal. However, his stay at Dens would turn sour when he fell out of favour with the new management team of Ivano and Dario Bonetti and would later be allegedly assaulted outside the ground in January 2002 - the men who were arrested were acquitted of all charges.
Despite this controversy, Billio found himself back in Dundee in October 2012 when AC Milan visited the club to give a two-day course to look at new and innovative ideas that Dundee hoped would help the club and it's youth system. He was then further invited back by director Steve Martin and general manager Jim Thomson when Dundee took on Manchester City in a pre-season friendly in 2014.
In total, Patrizio played 28 times in the Dark Blues, scoring twice with both coming against Motherwell.
Despite everything that went down during his time with Dundee, Billio never let that get in the way as he played a key role in the link up with both clubs back in 2012 and still speaks highly of the club and also the support.
Patrizio, you started your career off at AC Milan. What was it like coming through the ranks at such a world-renowned club? I believe your team was also known as ‘La Primavera Miliardaria?
I started my career as a professional in the 1991/1992 season, when I was bought by Milan, for an important amount from Calcio Montebelluna at the age of 16.
For 3 years I played in Milan's Youth Team and I trained periodically with the first team, playing some friendly matches with Maldini, Donadoni, Baresi, Ancelotti, Costacurta, Boban, Van Basten, Gullit, Galli.
I have beautiful memories of my early career, where I was able to learn things from a technical/tactical/relational point of view thanks to the support of coaches, such as Sacchi, Capella, Viscidi.
You were loaned out to various clubs in Italy in the early part of your career. What did you learn from your time with AC Milan?
I was loaned by the Sports Director of the time, Ariedo Braida, to "make my bones", as they say in the football slang, in several Italian teams for various sports seasons.
My first club in the UK, the Crystal Palace in the 1997/1998 season, where I was able to compare myself with a more physical and less tactical football, essential for my professional growth.
I was one of the first footballers to emigrate to the UK and for this I could call myself a pioneer of Italian football.
What was the reason behind your short stay with Crystal Palace?
After Crystal Palace I had the chance to go to Newcastle, at the time coached by (Kenny) Dalglish, but at the end despite having a rough agreement, everything went wrong.
You joined Dundee in 1999 when Jocky Scott was the manager. How did your transfer to Dundee happen? Did you ever speak to Jocky before signing?
In the same season thanks to an intermediary, I landed at Dundee FC where I found an excellent Manager and Director, Jocky Scott.
My first season was very satisfying, having a good relationship with the club (Jim Thompson in the first place), the Manager and with the fantastic support of the Dundee fans.
Your early performances were rewarded with the offer of a 3-year contract. Was this an easy decision to make?
Renewing my existing 18-month contract, for an additional 3-year contract, was automatic, especially at a time of importance for Scottish football, with Rangers (Amoruso, Negri, Gattuso, Annoni) and the much-fortified Celtic.
Jocky’s contract wouldn’t be renewed and in came fellow Italians Ivano and Dario Bonetti. Were you happy to see your fellow countrymen take charge of Dundee?
In the 2000/2001 season in place of Scott, Ivano Bonetti arrived and Dundee bought many strong players (Caniggia to name one) with the aim of being able to undermine the leaderships of the two teams of Glasgow.
Just as quickly as you had signed a new deal, you and Marco De Marchi found yourselves out of the first team. Two weeks after your last game you were training alone and basically your Dundee career was over. Was there ever any explanation why the management team banished you out of the first team?
Honestly, our start was excellent, I scored the first goal of the Scottish Premier league and we all worked for the success of this project.
Then without any explanation I was a victim of Mobbing. This happened when I was out of the stadium after finishing a training and when I was in the company of Marco de Marchi.
The story was big news with newspapers and television, it was talked about for days.
Obviously this experience has affected myself in both a personal and sports capacity, but I keep positive memories of the support received from players, leaders of the time, fans of the Dundee and especially the lawyers Minghetti and Chris Farnell.
You stayed in Scotland after your release and signed for Aberdeen for 6 months? Was this because you wanted to stay in Scotland?
After leaving Dundee FC I landed in Aberdeen to continue with the Scottish football that I had fallen in love with.
In the same sports season, I chose to return to Italy with Livorno, where I had Donadoni as Manager and Marco Negri as team-mate.
I decided to return to Italy, declining the possibility to stop with Haiduk Split, a club proposed by Chris Farnell, an English lawyer, to resume at the same time a university career.
After that you returned to Italy and that’s where you retired form Football. You are back with your first club AC Milan now. What is your role now with them?
I am currently very pleased to be part of the Mondo Calcio school project and to work for a glorious company like Milan.
I graduated in Sports Management with a sports address at the Catholic University of Milan and I was lucky enough to play professional up to 37 years.
Now I live in Kuwait, where I run a Milan football school for children aged 5 to 18, this activity engages me every day but at the same time pleases me.
There were rumours of an AC Milan-Dundee FC link it, with yourself stated you would have loved to set up a Milan academy in Dundee. What happened with these plans?
I confirm the Rumours that Dundee are interested in deepening relations with Milan and should do the necessary steps to make the best decisions.
Finally, are you on good terms with Dundee after coming back a few years ago, despite everything that had happened?
My relationship with Dundee F.C and their fans is excellent and this interview is proof of this. I keep beautiful memories of all the fans and one day I hope to be the Dundee Manager.