independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Let us hope old-school warrior Dunne has many more miles to run

QUITE the most depressing quote ever mined from the spectacularly narrow moral canyon we know as the Premier League concerned Richard Dunne.

It came as Manchester City were deciding it was time to offload a man who'd been voted their supporters' 'Player of the Year' four times. Armed with a bottomless vault of Arabian cash, City would be looking to – as they saw it – upgrade.

Their chief executive of the time was an unpleasantly self-regarding man called Garry Cook. He explained that Dunne (right) would be leaving City because his name did not – as he put it – "roll off the tongue in Beijing". Put simply, Dunne didn't sell enough merchandise.

Cook, of course, didn't last at City either. Something to do with a nasty email sent to a player's mother, who happened to be battling cancer.

But the breathtaking dismissiveness of his attitude towards Dunne represented a watershed in professional football's drift from sport to some kind of muscled haute couture. Here was a club brazenly declaring that the game no longer represented the bottom-line.

On Thursday, I couldn't help but think of Dunne as the January transfer window ebbed to such a dull, un-dramatic close. He was, quite probably, watching the TV countdown, maybe even wondering if he'd have been part of the narrative himself had different circumstances prevailed.

Two days earlier, he'd suffered another setback at Aston Villa in an increasingly desperate attempt to regain match fitness.

Dunne's physical bravery has almost certainly taken a cruel toll on his body, some now fear a career-ending one.

But when the nurturing of celebrity and accumulation of wealth so palpably preoccupy his industry, Dunne has always seemed to represent something stubbornly grounded and old-school. A professional willing to hurt himself to win.

When the time came, football spat out Cook without a second glance. Yet Dunne is still there, albeit now hanging on by a thread.

If you covet sport above booming snake-oil spin, you'll surely pray he still has many miles to run.

Irish Independent

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