CITY today said farewell to one of the club’s most resolute and enduring defenders in Republic of Ireland star Richard Dunne, who has signed for Aston Villa.
The player’s departure, confirmed this lunchtime after the Football Association checked the paperwork, signals the end of an era and Richard goes to the Midlands with the best wishes and gratitude of everyone at Manchester City.
Dunne, who will be 30-years-old next month was signed by Joe Royle in October 2000 for £3m and has turned out to be one of the best buys ever for the club.Not only did the former skipper clock up 290 league appearances and 55 more outings in the cup but he wrote his name in the Blues’ history books by being voted Fans’ player of the year on four successive occasions.
When he arrived from Goodison, Richard played at right back before shifting into the middle where he formed an impressive partnership with Sylvain Distin. His club form propelled him to centre stage with the Republic of Ireland. He has become an integral part of their set up and now has 53 caps to his name.
Mark Hughes was the fifth different City manager under whom Richard played. It was the third of them Stuart Pearce - after Royle and Kevin Keegan - who handed him the captain's armband at the start of the 2006/07 season.
Dunne was on the pitch for every minute of every City game that season, both league and cup, and went on to land fans’ player of the season honours for the third successive time. Twelve months later he made history by picking up the coveted award for the fourth time.
Mark Hughes today paid tribute to the powerhouse defender who could face his old teammates at the beginning of October when the Blues visit Villa Park.
“Richard has been outstanding for Manchester City. He is the ultimate professional and has served the club magnificently. Winning the player of the year award for four consecutive years tells you everything about him. We all wish him well for his future career at Aston Villa," he said.
“It would have been difficult for Dunney to stay given his standing at the club and I understand that. I wasn’t going to stand in his way. I could have tried to stop him going and said I wanted him as a squad player but out of respect for what he has done for City I wasn’t going to do that.
“Not only has Richard performed exceptionally well for this club over the years but he has been a terrific ambassador and is a inspiring person who commands the respect of everyone. He has conducted himself in a impressive manner throughout my time here and way beyond that.”
To see our video tribute to Dunney, click here.