Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill helped kick off my coaching adventure: Dunne


All smiles: Paul Robinson, Steven Pienaar and Joleon Lescott in their NI gear
All smiles: Paul Robinson, Steven Pienaar and Joleon Lescott in their NI gear
Richard Dunne

By Laure James

Richard Dunne has credited Michael O'Neill with directing him to a new path in coaching.

The former Manchester City and Republic of Ireland ace is studying towards his Uefa B Licence with the Irish FA, after the Northern Ireland boss suggested he enrol.

And while Dunne jokes he's still very uncomfortable having to wear Northern Ireland training gear for sessions, the ex-Irish international says he's enjoying learning alongside big names such as Real Madrid and Chelsea legend Ricardo Carvalho and former England internationals Joleon Lescott and Paul Robinson.

"It's really good, very good. It is intense; there's a lot of information to take in and it'll probably take a little bit of time to sink in but the coaches make it really enjoyable," he said.

"I was working on TV down in the south and was working with Michael O'Neill. I had a chat with him about how I was thinking about the future, and coaching is quite a common route for ex-professional players to take. He said they had a course running this summer, which fitted in with my schedule.

"Is it weird wearing a Northern Ireland top? Yes, yes, completely! I keep trying not to look down at it all the time, it's a very strange feeling!

"It's great to be here though, being around the hotel and in town has been great, the coaches are really nice and I get on with everyone here."

Dunne's cousin and Northern Ireland scout Andrew Cousins is among O'Neill's staff and was also a key promoter of the course.

"Between Michael and Andrew's persuasion, I was convinced to enrol and I'm so glad I did," said Dunne. "Andrew and I are quite close, and he's working with Man City these days. I hear he's been having the experience of a lifetime out with the national squad in Central America, so that's quite nice for him, while we're learning everything ever taught about coaching in 12-hour days.

"Honestly though, it's really good fun and I couldn't imagine being on a better course."

Without an Irish side to follow at the World Cup, Dunne has backed England to make an impact in Russia and thinks City star John Stones has a lot to offer, yet queries why the 24-year-old has struggled for game time.

"I know he's young, but John has the experience of playing under Pep Guardiola and hopefully he'll take that with him into the England team. He's in a half-in, half-out situation where he's being looked to for success with England but hasn't played that many games for City, which I find odd," he said.

"He looks like the ideal player for Guardiola, but for whatever reason he's not getting game time. I think as a centre-half, you're 27, 28 before you hit your prime. He's still in the earlier stages of his development and you have to be given the chance to make mistakes before you learn, but I think he's the best England have in that position.

"As for who I'll support, I think I'll go for France. I've lived in Monaco for three years and love it there. I like Didier Deschamps as a manager."

Dunne, who earned 80 caps in his 13 years representing the Republic, reveals he'd love to use coaching as a way to give something back, but suggests what becomes a passion for many begins as an obligation and he is keeping an open mind.

"It's strange, I've spoken to a lot of people on the course and many of us agree coaching is something you sort of fall into. When I retired I had no real intention of going down this route, at first you get dragged into it but it is something you learn a great deal from as well," he said.

"Nothing may come from this, I've no real ambition to have a super career in coaching, but I am really enjoying the course, it's especially enjoyable with kids.

"You can see their development, but eventually you want to get back into professional football because that's what you spent years with. Perhaps there is an interesting future.

"It's nice to think you can still have some influence, it's true what they say about wanting to give something back."

Belfast Telegraph


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