Saturday, 6 August 2011

City Favourites: Richard Dunne

As a youngster, growing up with City in the dark days of relegation battles and mid table finishes being a success, it was a rarity to develop a love for an individual player. But around the ages of 11 and 12, Irish centre back Richard Dunne became one of my favourite players to wear the sky blue.

The towering centre half signed for City from Everton in 2000 for a fee of £3million.

Dunne in his first season at City
His life in Manchester got off to the worst possible start, City were relegated to the second tier of English football in Richard's first season with the club.  In 2003, Dunne was one of several City players charged with disciplinary problems and his future at Eastlands looked to be over. 

Richard Dunne thought otherwise, over the summer of the 2003/04 season, he underwent an intense fitness regime; he returned to City for the new season stronger, faster and fitter than ever before and was ready to prove he belonged in Manchester. 

And he did exactly that. It was from then on, a run of outstanding heroic performances from Dunne meant he became one of City's most valuable players, the same guy who had practically wasted his chances with the blues, had come back to fight to the death. 

Yes he made mistakes, every player in the world makes mistakes, but to City fans, he was known as indispensable. The ability to carry the team forward with incredible determination, grit and solidity earned him 4 Player of the Year awards at City, more than any other player ever. The fans weren't the only ones to recognise the love Richard showed for City, in 2006 manager Stuart Pearce appointed him club captain, taking over from Sylvian Distin.

By this time, the fans proudly sung his name to any visitors to walk through the sky blue turnstiles,

“He's here, he's there, he's every fucking where, Richard Dunne, Richard Dunne.

In 2007, Micah Richards said:
"Ever since I’ve come to this club Richard has just been quality. I play with him week in, week out and I think he’s one of the best players I’ve played with. I’ve played with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in the England squad but Richard is right up there with them.”

He went on to captain City for another 3 seasons, and single handedly, holding on to vital points in the battle of the lower ends of the Premier League. 

However, the City takeover in 2008 signalled the beginning of the end for Dunney, unfortunately, Richard never really captured the hearts of the new owners like he did with the fans. In 2009, following the signings of other central defenders Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure, Dunne was told he could leave the club. 

Aston Villa were the team to take him in, and what a fine player they were in for. Richard's remarkable final tally for City - 256 games, 7 goals.

Many fans were distraught to see him go, and the most disheartening thing is, i believe if he had a choice, he would have stayed. But he has settled well with Villa, and has recently been joined by international team mate Shay Given, who also fell out of favour at Eastlands.

Sometimes, its not all about who’s the best player or who can score the most goals, its about the passion for their club shown within their play, and for that, Richard Dunne was of the highest order. Growing up, his commanding figure was something I couldn't see a City team without. So now City are high flying with the cream of the crop, it's sometimes nice to remember who kept the lava for the City volcano brewing all these years.  Now its erupted, and we’ve parted ways, but he will be remembered. Not to mention the only time my dad would not punish me for swearing, would be shouting Richard Dunne's chant at the top of my voice. And even that reason alone, means he's one of my, City favourites. 

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