Richard Dunne: ‘The hardest thing is admitting it to yourself’

Start of new campaign was right time for defender to call time on international career

Richard Dunne gives a thumbs-up as he leaves a Queens Park Rangers press conference at Carton House in Maynooth. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Richard Dunne gives a thumbs-up as he leaves a Queens Park Rangers press conference at Carton House in Maynooth. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 16:29

In the end it was all about the timing for Richard Dunne, who revealed today that admitting to himself that his international career was over was the toughest part of Thursday’s decision to hang up his green jersey.

Dunne (34) announced the news last night, having made it that morning, and today he held a press conference at Carton House where QPR’s pre-season preparations ahead of a return to the Premier League are well under way.

The Dubliner is an uncomplicated sort and there was little by way of revelations. The decision has been made and that’s that. Another qualification race, this time for Euro 2016, was a step too far.

“I think it was the start of the new campaign, it was something that I probably couldn’t commit another two years to,” said Dunne, whose manager Harry Redknapp offered numerous glowing eulogies throughout on a man too modest to talk himself up.

“I’d be letting myself down if I decided in six months’ time that I didn’t fancy it anymore. Before the campaign starts it’s the right time.”

Dunne has lived the dream, playing 80 times for his country and scoring eight goals from the centre of defence, and although he hasn’t quite had time to reflect on it, it has been a wrench.

“It was very difficult, it’s something I grew up as a child desperate to do. I’ve been fortunate that I had the opportunity to do it.

“The hardest thing is admitting it to yourself, really, you want to try and carry on and play forever, but, for me, I just felt the time was right now.”

The decision, however, was made easier by the fact Dunne had been a bit-part player since Euro 2012, having missed most of the following season injured and watched new manager Martin O’Neill explore other options in anticipation of yesterday’s news.

He let O’Neill know by phone as soon as the decision was made. It was no-nonsense stuff.

“He just asked had I made my decision and just said ‘fair play to you, you’ve done great, keep in touch’ sort of thing. l get on really well with Martin, so it was a nice conversation and he wished me well. It was good.”

There are obvious highs and lows, but Dunne hasn’t singled them out yet. What he’ll miss first and foremost is the camaraderie.

“The whole experience has been a highlight, there’s not too many down points in it. I’ve enjoyed all the games, all the experiences.

“The one thing that keeps Ireland going and keeps us competitive, is the team spirit, as much as anything else. You go through many players and teams throughout your career, but the squads that I’ve been in with Ireland, there’s been three or four, the atmosphere is always the same, there’s always togetherness. It’s been a joy to be a part of.”

Redknapp has been reasonably quiet in the transfer market, by his prolific standards, but rather concerning for Dunne might be the arrival of two centre halves in the shape of Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker.

The manager insisted he intends playing three at the back for the coming season, however, and he clearly still has time and room for Dunne.

“He did play a massive part last year in getting us promoted. The day Richard walked into the club, I said it at the time, I slept easier. I knew I was getting a fantastic player, a centre half, and a great guy as well.

“All through the season and especially the big massive games at the end of the season, the play-off game with Wigan at home when he was incredible, and the final when for he was man of the match. He was absolutely unbelievable.

“I think he needs the break. The Premier League’s another step up. Those (international) breaks during the season are going to be important for him to recover.

“I bought two top centre halves to go alongside the ones that I’ve got, and no disrespect to Richard or anybody – Clint (Hill), Richard and Rio – they’re not young ’uns. You need a squad so I’ve got five fantastic centre halves, I’m looking to probably play three at the back and he’s a big part of the team for me.”

Whatever the competition, Dunne, whose fitness feels “really good”, maintains he is still up for this particular fight.

“I don’t have any desire to retire from football altogether, I’m just looking forward to this season and hopefully there will be a couple more after that.”

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