Richard Dunne lets football and Harry Redknapp do the talking
‘He’s a quiet lad, he hasn’t got a big mouth. He just gets on with the job and heads the ball'
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp and Richard Dunne at yesterday’s press conference at Carton House. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Dunne’s international retirement, when confirmation came on Thursday night, was a typically understated affair; as was his press conference in Carton House yesterday afternoon, where Harry Redknapp provided the glowing tributes, like only he can, and the 34-year-old Dubliner at times looked embarrassed by the fuss.
He intends playing with QPR for a few seasons yet, but when he does eventually bow out those on the after-dinner speaking circuit won’t be unduly concerned.
Dunne has always done his talking on the pitch and it looks likely he’ll round off his days of entertaining Irish crowds with his father Dick, a former league winner with Rovers, and his family in attendance.
“I’m looking forward to it, I’ve never played in the stadium, so it’s good and it’s walking distance for my Ma and Da to come down.” He’s asked for 20 tickets because “it would be nice to have all the family there”.
The decision to turn his back on his Republic of Ireland career was a gradual process, coming as it did after two years of intermittent involvement with the national side following a long-term injury in the 2013 season, but finalising it was difficult.
“I thought about it over the summer when I was away and had a chat with my Ma and Da and said to them that I was thinking about it,” Dunne reflected yesterday.
“It’s something that has been on my mind a while and knew that’s what I wanted to do, but then it’s finally being able to admit it, that’s the hardest part. For me, it was just a case that the time was right.”
The thought crossed his mind once or twice after Euro 2012 but he didn’t want to leave it like that and now when the 34-year-old has time to reflect on his 80 caps the memories will be fonder.
As well as that game in Moscow in 2011, when he famously kept the Russians at bay on the way to Poland, there’s also Japan and South Korea in 2002 and the journey to the second round of the World Cup.
“When we qualified for the World Cup. It was brilliant; the team that we had, the experience, and how well we did. Coming back and being in the Phoenix Park. It was brilliant and it was something that I watched as a youngster with Euro ‘88 team, to be part of it was brilliant.
“Because I only decided for definite yesterday, I’ve not had time to relax and think back but there have been so many highs over the years and so many good experiences, I’ve enjoyed it.”
Redknapp, his antithesis at the top table, opened proceedings with some effusive praise and reassurance that, despite the arrival of Steven Caulker and Rio Ferdinand, the short-term contract and early concerns when Dunne’s “shorts were splitting” on his debut, the Dubliner’s days at Loftus Road aren’t numbered.
“For me there wasn’t a better player at the football club last year than Richard, he was fantastic and it would be very hard not to pick him in any team I have. I am such a fan of his. I tried to sign him at Portsmouth and when he was available last year year I was desperate to get him to the club.”
Redknapp added: “He’s been a top player for so many years. I use to laugh when people said to me ‘he’s got no pace, Dunne, you can get up the side, he can’t run’.
I said ‘he can’t run?’, I said ‘he’s like lightning’ . . . I’ve got no doubts about him in the Premier League, none whatsoever.”
Redknapp added: “He’s a quiet lad, he hasn’t got a big mouth. He just gets on with the job and heads the ball out of the box when the crosses come in. He’s top class in my opinion.”
As for his own assessment of his game, Dunne’s happy enough for others to make their minds up.
“For me, it’s been great, I’ve enjoyed my career and it’s over, with Ireland. If anyone is interested in remembering me that’s brilliant, I’m pleased, but I’m not going to tell anyone what to think.”