A childhood Manchester City fan, Dixon began his footballing career as a youth at Burnley, making his professional debut for them in 1982. From there he played for Chester City and Bury before joining Stoke City in 1986 for a fee of £50,000. He instantly impressed at Stoke and forged a fine defensive partnership with Steve Bould. The pair's potential and performances attracted the attention of Arsenal and in January 1988 they both joined the "Gunners" for a combined fee of £765,000.
The following season, as Dixon cemented his place in the team, Arsenal won their first league title in eighteen years in a dramatic final game of the season. A defensive mainstay in a successful Arsenal team until his retirement in 2002, Dixon's tenure at Arsenal saw him collect four league championship medals, three FA Cup winner's medals and a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup medal. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, for the seasons 1989–90 and 1990–91. His retirement came at the end of Arsenal's domestic double-winning 2001–02 season, their second in his time at the club. At the time of his retirement, he had played at 91 out of the 92 Football League grounds – every one except Fulham's Craven Cottage.
At international level, Dixon was capped 22 times for England, scoring once.
Since his playing retirement, Dixon has worked as a football pundit and columnist. He began his television career working for the BBC, primarily on their Match of the Day and Football Focus programmes, then moved to ITV Sport in July 2012. Starting in 2013, he provides commentary alongside Arlo White for NBC's Premier League coverage in the USA. He has also done charitable work, joining Lawrence Dallaglio in a sponsored bike ride for Sport Relief which raised over £986,000 for the charity.
Born in Manchester, Dixon was a boyhood Manchester City supporter. He began his professional playing career in the lower divisions. On leaving school in 1980, he joined Burnley as an apprentice in 1980, turning professional in 1982, then signed for Chester City (where he experienced finishing bottom of the whole Football League in 1983–84), Bury and later Stoke City. At the Victoria Ground Dixon made a fine impression with some fine performances from right back as he played in 50 matches in 1986–87 scoring three goals. In 1987–88 Dixon made 38 appearances scoring twice. He joined First Division Arsenal in January 1988 for a fee of £375,000 and was later joined at Highbury by Stoke teammate Steve Bould.