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Everton Past-Player Profile

Richard Dunne  FACTS
Born Dublin, 21 September 1979
Height 6' - 2" (188 cm)
Joined Everton as a schoolboy in 1994
Debut Swindon Town (h), 5 January 1997
Final v Southampton (h), 14 October 2000
Left Everton to join Manchester City in October 2000 (3.5M)
Nicknames Honey Monster
Honours Ireland U-15, U-16, U-18, U-21, Full
 Seasons  Club  Apps  Gls
up to 1994 Home Farm Everton
1995-96 Everton Reserves 4 (-) -
1996-97 Everton Reserves 17 (-) 1
1997-98 Everton Reserves 12 (2) 2
1998-99 Everton Reserves 3 (-) -

  • Big and Strong
  • Confident
  • Good ball control
  • Best as a centre-half
  • Young
  • Inexperienced
  • Serious lack of pace
  • Too fond of his fatty food!
The first product of Everton's Irish connection – the sponsorship of Irish Premier League club, Home Farm in Dublin – Richard Dunne joined Everton as a 15-year-old schoolboy in 1994-95.  The next season, he started to play in Everton reserves.  In early 1997, Dunne signed a 5-year professional contract and Joe Royle judged him to be ready some first-team action, initially filling in for the injured Craig Short

Richard Dunne's biggest break came under the caretaker-management of Dave Watson, who wanted Richard beside him in the last 5 games of the season as Parkinson was also injured.  The Honey Monster gave a competent and composed display in his first game against Liverpool, where he became the youngest player in a derby match.  But that distinction lasted less than 25 minutes as Michael Ball came on as sub.

International recognition at the senior level rapidly followed, with a call-up from Mick McCarthy to the full Ireland squad against Romania at the end of April 1997.  Despite being a sub, Richard was not to make his international debut that day.

Dunne's career has since gone backwards through a succession of injuries and lack of first-team opportunities at Goodison Park.  The arrival of Slaven Bilic in May 1997 may have affected Dunne over the close season, when he let himself go a bit physically.  He put on quite a lot of weight and was suffering a hernia problem, with the result that he was far from ready for first-team football in August 1997. 

A spell back on loan with Home Farm, and a prolonged run in the Reserves helped him return to a better level of fitness.  The injury crisis of Winter 1997 allowed him to get in a couple of appearances but Kendall was reluctant to experiment with the youngster in the battle to avoid relegation.  Instead, Dunne became one of the victorious FA Youth Cup winners in Everton's Youth team.

The 1998-99 season started badly for Dunne, after chipping a bone in his foot during the Republic of Ireland's victorious U-18 European Championship campaign in the summer.  There was little danger that Dunne would be one of Walter Smith's clear-out targets – Walter once tried to sign Dunne for Rangers.  So it should be good news to see Dunne sign a new 4-yr contract in early October.

On the International front, Dunne was part of a strong Irish team for Paul McGrath's testimonial match at Lansdowne Road in the summer of 1998.  In November, he broke back into the Premiership squad and, at age 19, the defender got another cap as one of three centre-backs for Ireland's U-21 team against Yugoslavia.

However, all is not well. Walter Smith insists on playing him as a wingback – a position to which he is totally unsuited. This has affected his game badly. He may be able to get his head to the ball first playing centre-half in the youth team, but he is not up to par doing even the basics, like passing a 10-yd ball to a mate in the first team.

Hopefully, Walter Smith's signing of Richard Gough is meant to provide Dunney with another mentor, and is not a reflection on his inherent inadequacies. However, Gough is only here for two seasons; let's hope Dunney gets some learning in soon.

Also, his poor physical condition and lack of fitness continue to be a concern – a disgrace for a young player but this is an area where Everton are really falling behind the big boys, just as far as they are in overall player quality. Perhaps this is where Gough can exert some much-needed off-field influence.

In the 1999-2000 season, Dunne continued to be played out of position – most recently at Derby, where he was cruelly exposed if harshly dismissed after only 25 mins and two albeit boisterous tackles.  He followed this up with another red card at U-21 level, hacking down a Croatian attacker who was clear on goal.

Dunne managed to become embroiled in an ill-advised public confrontation with Walter Smith when Dunne and Michael Ball missed training on 1 January 2000, following excessive Millennium revelry.  The players were sent home for the rest of the week when they finally did appear, and were then fined two week's wages double punishment which was apparently not permitted under their contracts.  The players took their case to an FA Tribunal in an effort to reduce the 'harsh' double-punishment, but finally dropped the case after "adverse publicity".  Their foolishness certainly left a sour taste in the mouths of many, especially Walter Smith, who does not easily forgive or forget...

Then, in the penultimate game of the season at Leeds United, Dunne was dismissed with a straight red after another reckless tackle which earned him a five-match suspension deferred till the start of next season.  That of itself should be enough to defray any further talk of him being sold over the summer...  

But as the 2000-01 season started, Wimbledon came in with an 2.5M bid.  After seeming to finally agree terms the Honey Monster was apparently seen leaving Goodison for the "last" time teary eyed. He obviously didn't want to go.  But suddenly the deal falls through just as Richard Gough happens to pick up a serious knee injury... 

In this strange period, Dunne performed brilliantly for Ireland in his favored position of centre-back, and poorly for Everton in his forced role at full-back.  Walter Smith even stated that he wanted only players with experience to be playing at centre-back.  Then came a bizarre incident on the coach back from another humiliating early Worthington League Cup exit this time to Bristol Rovers.  Dunne and Michael Ball were caught giggling when they should obviously have been spending the time in morose introspection: the disciplinarian Smith reportedly went ballistic, and then dropped both of them for the hugely embarrassing home dbcle v Ipswich Town

The writing was on the wall, however.  Smith was prepared to see an Irish International just walk away from the club, further reinforcing his terrible reputation for mishandling promising young players.  At least Richard Dunne went to a hopefully more understanding manager: Joe Royle at Manchester City, where we wish him well.

Season Squad
1996-97 27 6 (1) - 1 (-) - 7 (1) -
1997-98 27 2 (1) - 1 (-) - 3 (1) -
1998-99 27 15 (1) - 4 (-) - 19 (1) -
1999-2k 15 27 (4) - 5 (-) - 32 (4) -
2000-01 15 4 (-) - 1 (-) - 5 (-) -

Totals: 54 (7) - 12 (-) - 66 (7) -

Last updated: 01 December 2008

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