This article is part of Football League World’s ‘FLW Greats’ series, this content strand is where we look back on a player’s individual season and discuss how impressive they were…
Dean Windass has been revered as an icon from recent years at Hull City thanks to his heroics in the 2007/08 Championship campaign, vastly improving the club’s fortunes for another decade.
The summer transfer window of 2007 saw Windass complete a permanent return to his boyhood club, Hull City, following a spell with Bradford City in recent years. The forward spent the previous campaign on-loan with the Tigers and helped them maintain their Championship status with eight goals to stave off relegation.
A permanent move meant that Windass was at the KCOM Stadium and could hopefully push them further up the table and potentially towards the top six, after shaking off relegation fears.
Windass already had cult-hero status with the Hull faithful after his exploits in both spells with the club but this season would be set to rocket him into folklore.
A steady start to the season saw the Tigers pick up four points in their first three games under Phil Brown, but Windass’ contribution was noted from the off with four goal contributions in those three games, a goal and an assist apiece against both Plymouth Argyle and Norwich City.
Can you get full marks in this Hull City challenge?
Windass was never by any means the league’s most prolific striker, but his experience and guile in the final third came up with the answers on so many occasions for Brown’s side, with this season being the pinnacle of that quality.
Goals here and there followed with assists in a solid return in the first half of the season to go with the goals of youngster Fraizer Campbell. The two were forming a very strong partnership in attack that would bear fruit when it mattered most.
Before the month of December, Windass had already notched seven goals and five assists for the Tigers, and they were crucial contributions too; without his goals or assists in that period, Hull would have been 10 points worse off in the Championship, just proving he was the man for the big occasion.
The experienced attacker then struggled for consistency between then and the end of the season but the team as a whole grew stronger with a very fine second-half to the season, which saw them come to within touching distance of the automatic promotion places.
Between the start of the second half of the season and the end of the normal campaign, Windass only managed another four goals and one assist but was still a key part of Brown’s plans as Hull geared up for the play-offs and a tough semi-final clash against Watford.
Having finished third in the league, Hull had the pleasure of making the away trip in the first leg and were put well on their way to a trip to Wembley as they took a 2-0 lead back to Humberside with them. Not many would have expected this at the start of the season but it was once again a telling contribution from Windass as he doubled the away side’s advantage with an instinctive header, following a rebound.
The Tigers cruised to the play-off final in emphatic circumstances as they recorded a 4-1 thrashing over the Hornets on home soil to set up a date at the home of football against Bristol City, meaning it was third vs fourth in the play-off final.
As is the case with a lot of finals, the tension was palpable at Wembley with so much riding on success and failure but the Tigers have one man to thank for their triumph that day, and no prizes for guessing who starred.
A narrow game was edged by the Tigers thanks to a stunning goal from Windass in the back end of the first half. Some great work by Fraizer Campbell saw him break to the byline with little options towards goal. He checked back and saw a completely free Windass at the edge of the box, to which he clipped a lofted pass perfectly into his path and the veteran made no mistake with a thunderous volley into the far corner.
This volley settled matters and clinched Hull’s top-flight status for the 2008/09 season, putting Windass down in the club’s history with arguably their greatest moment.