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The start of a new decade for professional soccer player Richard Dixon has been extremely exciting.

Dixon on Monday became the first player to sign a professional contract in Chattanooga Football Club history, just 10 days after he and his wife welcomed home their first child.

"Our family loves Chattanooga and we felt this would be the best opportunity, club and environment for us," said Dixon, who passed up multiple USL Championship and USL League One offers to sign a multiyear deal with Chattanooga FC.

"When I was a sophomore at West Florida, that was when Coach Bill (Elliott) took the job with CFC. For the past 10 years I have kept up with their seasons, history and growth. Coach Elliott had recruited me relentlessly to come play for CFC the past seven years. To be a part of such a rich history and be the first professional signee to help continue the club's legacy is big for me and my family."

In an injury-shortened 2019 season Dixon appeared in six matches for USL League One's Chattanooga Red Wolves. He scored one goal and averaged six clearances and two interceptions per match. He also won 14 of 19 tackles.

The Jamaica-born 29-year-old has played 83 matches at the USL Championship level, which included a 2015-16 stint with Saint Louis FC, where he crossed paths with new CFC managing director Jeremy Alumbaugh.

Elliott, now CFC's technical director, said the 5-foot-11 right back, who can also play center back and defensive midfield, brings more than skill, quickness and toughness to the game.

"Richard has a great personality and is a leader in the locker room," Elliott said. "He will set an example for the younger professional players. He is a great player, but I value his character even more than his skill set."

Dixon will serve a unique role as a player-coach as the club opens play March in the National Independent Soccer Association, which is level three of professional soccer.

"I look to get my team going and be the one who keeps spirits up, makes sure everyone is motivated and ready to compete," he said. "I try to win every duel both mentally and physically on both sides of the field. I am hungry to win for a long time and bring championships to CFC."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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