Born William Dean in Birkenhead, across the Mersey River from Liverpool, in 1907, Dixie got his professional start in 1923 with Birkenhead club Tranmere Rovers, then in the Third Division. He stayed with Tranmere less than two seasons before moving to the First Division with Everton in 1924. Dominating in the air, he was an instant success for the Toffees, scoring 33 goals in his first full season.
Dean, however, was just warming up. Sidelined briefly in the 1926-27 season due to a skull fracture caused by a motorcycle accident, he still managed to find the back of the net 36 times, including twelve in five appearances for the English national team. In 1927-28, he scored an English record 60 league goals for Everton, including a hat-trick in the final match of the season to push him past the previous record of 59, set by Middlesbrough's George Camsell the previous season. He stayed with Everton until 1937, by which time he had scored a total of 383 goals for Everton in all competitions and helped them to two League titles (1928, 1932) and one FA Cup (1933).
After leaving Everton, Dean played briefly for Notts County (1938-39) and Sligo Rovers (1939). Although injuries had taken their toll on his form, he still managed to net 10 times for Sligo in seven appearances, including five in one match.
In 2001, Everton erected a statue of Dean outside the stadium. His number 9 shirt is regarded with honor by the club, having been worn subsequently by Toffee greats Tommy Lawson and Dave Hickson. It is currently worn by Landon Donovan, on loan from the LA Galaxy.