Monday 23 September 2019

Unique Connolly calls time on career that ticked many boxes

David Connolly scored nine goals for Ireland
David Connolly scored nine goals for Ireland
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

News of David Connolly's retirement at the age of 37 means that just eight members of Ireland's 2002 World Cup squad are still playing the game.

Indeed, with Andy O'Brien's intentions unclear following his release from Vancouver Whitecaps, the remaining septet are Shay Given, Ian Harte, Steven Reid, Clinton Morrison, Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff. In 12 months' time, we could be down to a handful.

Connolly had quite a career. He wore the colours of 13 different clubs, most famously Feyenoord after a promising breakthrough in the English second tier with Watford earned him a lucrative switch to the Dutch giants.

This was just before Keane came along to rewrite all Irish goalscoring records. For a brief window, Connolly was the great white hope, but he ended up in the shadows. He won 41 caps, scoring nine goals.

In his own way the 'Angry Ant', so christened because of his fiery temperament, succeeded in leaving his mark.

The short fuse was just one aspect of a strong personality and, in the midst of the Saipan madness, he was famously part of the attempts to bring Roy Keane back into fold. Connolly was his own man and later worked with the Corkman at Sunderland.

His longevity also paid a compliment to his professionalism and he was part of Southampton's efforts to jump from the League One to the Premier League. His final club was AFC Wimbledon, who he only joined in January.

Starved of opportunities, he decided to pack it in now rather than wait until the summer, although he did score once, meaning he completed the unique distinction of scoring for both the old Wimbledon and the current incarnation.

"He's the best striker I ever played with," said his boss Neal Ardley. "I have total respect for David. He feels that the money we are paying him would be better spent on someone who can start games. That is a rare quality to accept that."

Connolly has a bit more about him than the average footballer. Don't be surprised if we hear more from him in the future.

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