Former Ireland boss Brian Kerr has hailed Richard Dunne as “superb” after the QPR defender announced his retirement from international soccer.
Dunne called time on his Ireland career on Thursday after 80 caps and eight goals.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Kerr said Dunne’s potential had been evident from an early age, and that he came from a family with a fine soccer pedigree.
“I would have seen Richard when he was about 12 or 13,” Kerr said. “He was very well known in the schoolboy circles in Dublin, because he comes from a family of football people; his father, Dick, Theo, his uncle, and Noel, his uncle, a few more of them [too].
“They were very known football people in the south side of Dublin, and Richard was probably coming along the treadmill.
“He was such a big, strong fella, when he was a young lad, and he was very influential in matches, and he was up at Home Farm from an early age.
“You didn’t have to be any expert to pick him out, that’s for sure.”
"There was a turn in his lifestyle: he turned everything around, his game, he became a much more professional and more disciplined player" - Brian Kerr on Richard Dunne
Dunne played in the Ireland Under-18 team managed by Kerr that won the 1998 European Championship, and was a crucial part of the senior team’s defence during Kerr’s tenure as manager of the senior side.
At times in his early career, questions were asked about whether Dunne would reach the very highest levels of the game but Kerr said that Dunne had taken a decision to dedicate himself to the game, and thrived thereafter.
“He was always a big, strong lad, and there was an element of it that you would have said he could have been a bit fitter, which I think in many ways didn’t really come into his career until his early 20s, until that spell at Manchester City.
“It came to a bit of a crossroads at one stage...I think there was a turn in his lifestyle. He turned everything around in his game, he became a much more professional and more disciplined player.
“From then on, he became a superb centre-back. I think he was four or five times player of the year at Manchester City. In a time when they weren’t a particularly outstanding team, he was.”