Richard Dunne’s determination to end his international career on a much more positive note than Euro 2012 is understood to have been a key reason behind the defender’s decision to keep playing for Ireland.
The 32-year-old was one of the players most visibly affected by the team’s whitewash in Poland during the summer, with Dunne even getting emotional when speaking to the media before and after the final match against Italy.
On the eve of that final game, a near-tearful Dunne stated: “It’s your dream to go and play in the championships and play well and be brilliant and it’s just not happened, so it’s heartbreaking.”
That painful memory has remained with the defender and ensured the player’s meeting with Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli at Villa Park on Saturday went very smoothly, with the manager barely needing to persuade his most experienced defender to stay on.
Indeed, with Ireland currently lacking senior options in that position and Damien Duff and Shay Given deciding to bow out of international football, it is understood Dunne was equally concerned with not leaving the team short as they effectively begin the transition to a new era.
It isn’t the only decision Dunne has had to think about, however, as Stoke City chase his signature.
New Villa manager Paul Lambert is eager to alter the complexion of his squad and, with the team under financial constraints, the removal of Dunne’s higher wages makes sense. Stoke boss Tony Pulis ready to offer the player a three-year contract.
Dunne’s recent groin surgery has so far delayed any move, with that injury also keeping him out of Ireland’s next competitive match, against Kazakhstan on September 7.
At the very least, though, Dunne’s stand-in, Darren O’Dea, has seemingly been enjoying, and thriving, with regular football at Toronto FC.
The former Leeds United defender joined the MLS club at the start of August and was hailed as a “tower of strength” by new manager Paul Mariner after his third match, a 1-1 draw against Houston Dynamo in Texas.
The 25-year-old was even named captain in the absence of former German international Torsten Frings, and went on to create his team’s 85th-minute equaliser with a cross for scorer Terry Dunfield.
Of his move to the MLS, O’Dea said recently “people work nine to five. I wouldn’t want to be doing that, so I’m happy to be flying around the world playing matches in different places. I’m not complaining.”
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