What’s it like to captain City in a derby? It’s one of the biggest games of the season and as skipper, you have to rally the troops before and during the game.
Captain for almost a decade, Richard Dunne knows more than most what it’s like to lead City out against the old enemy.
Now retired and living in Monaco, we caught up with one of our most popular modern-day skippers…
Was the build-up to a derby any different than any other game?
“You could sense the atmosphere around the place and around the city in the days leading up to the game. You could see it in the lads during training with the ones who desperate to play on Saturday so there was definitely a difference. We went into most derbies back then as underdogs whereas now we’re expecting to win more often than not so it was a big challenge and a game everyone looked forward to and wanted to be part of.”
Did you have much interaction with City fans on the build-up?
“I didn’t intentionally go out looking for people to talk to! You’d come across people maybe in a shop or whatever and they’d be like, ‘Make sure you beat that lot on Saturday’ or ‘Do it for us!’ You knew that our fans wanted that one result and no matter what else happened, all would be forgiven if we won the derby.”
What did you say before the game to the rest of the lads?
“Most of the lads lived in town so they were in the middle of the city and could probably sense the feeling better than anyone and that this was the one we had to win. As much as you want your energy to take over and drive you forward, you have to try and play it cool on the day and make sure everyone’s relaxed and capable of playing their normal game, so that’s how I sort of handled it.”
Was there any particular derby that sticks in your mind?
“I’d say the season when Sven was in charge and we did the double over them. You could sense we were building as a club and were getting stronger and going into the derbies at that time you could feel that we were going into the games on a more level playing field and that we were capable of beating them. It was case of trying not to be overconfident about things and expecting to win and the performance over those two games in 2007/08 were what we were all about – energy and atmosphere and the players sticking together and fighting hard to get the result.”
What is your best and worst memories of derby day?
“Losing a home game against United is horrible. Whatever chance you have in these games you always feel you have a better chance at home so when it doesn’t go right you try to put your finger on why it didn’t go our way and it can be difficult. One of the best memories is when Shaun (Wright-Phillips) scored a great goal to make it 4-1 and moments like that you never forget and make it all worthwhile. The atmosphere in the stands and in the dressing room is fantastic and everybody is heading home on a high. It’s what every player wants – to play in the big games and win them.”
Do you still follow City and support from afar?
“Obviously I still love City and watch them whenever I can. My son and daughter are both City fans and have the kits and stuff and they want to go and watch the matches whenever we’re back home. I think for this weekend, it’s a big game for City and United have closed the gap behind so it’s a huge game and one we have to win and I expect City to be too strong for United on the day.”
Finally, what are you up to now?
“Nothing much at the moment. I’m enjoying being with my family, taking my son training and I love watching him play. I done a few bits of TV work for the Premier League but as far as coaching or managing, I don’t think it’s for me. I enjoyed my career but it’s time to relax, be home, be with my family and do my own thing. I only ever wish City the best and will be supporting them on Sunday.”