'The stuff of legend' | FAI pa...


'The stuff of legend' | FAI pay tribute to Tony Dunne

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The Football Association of Ireland have joined the tributes being paid to Republic of Ireland legend Tony Dunne who died on Monday aged 78.

The Dubliner won 33 international caps and was acknowledged as one of the best left-backs in the game throughout his time playing for Manchester United where he helped win the club's first European Cup in 1968.

Former Ireland and Manchester City striker Niall Quinn, now Interim Deputy CEO of the FAI, was a regular visitor to the Altrincham golf driving range that Dunne ran after his playing days at Shelbourne, United, Bolton Wanderers and Detroit Express.

"Tony was a wonderful character and a great host at his driving range in Altrincham, I loved going there to hit a few balls and have a chat with him,” Quinn recalled.

"He was passionate about his football and loved nothing better than telling me every time I visited that the players of his generation were streets ahead of my colleagues at City and the United team of the time.

"For Tony, there was no doubt that Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell were streets ahead of anything in the City team I played in.

"It was the same with his beloved Manchester United. At the time the likes of Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Mark Hughes were the star players but Tony wasn’t having it – Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best were in a different league.

"I remember one day remarking how well Sparky [Mark] Hughes was doing for United and Tony got visibly upset with me as he compared Mark to Denis Law and explained to me how better Denis was back in his day."

However there was one fellow Ireland and United player that Dunne felt he could make room for in the Sixties squad in which he played at Old Trafford.

"The one modern player he did concede on was Denis Irwin who did, of course, play left-back in a title winning United team like Tony and played for Ireland as well," said Quinn.

"He did admit Denis was top class and might have made it in his United squad!

“I used to love those chats with Tony. It was always football and seldom golf talk with him, bar to tell me I was too tall and my swing was too unique to get it right.

"I think he just wanted me to keep spending money at his range – and I just wanted to talk football with him.

"Tony Dunne was a great footballer with a career to match. He never forgot his Drimnagh roots and I will always cherish the memory of my time with him.

"Our sympathies go to Tony’s family, may he rest in peace."

The FAI President Gerry McAnaney has also paid tribute to the former Shelbourne star.

"Tony is fully deserving of his place in Irish football's Hall of Fame," said McAnaney.

"His career will stand the test of time and his achievements with Manchester United are the stuff of legend.

"On behalf of everyone involved with the game here in Ireland, may I pass on our sympathies to the Dunne family at this sad time."

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Denis Irwin FAI Gerry McAnaney Manchester United Niall Quinn Republic Of Ireland Tony Dunne

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