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Remembering Tony Dunne (1941-2020)

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Manchester United’s legendary full-back passed away this week

Soccer - Football League Division One - Manchester United v Leeds United - Old Trafford Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

The 1965-68 Manchester United team was full of star studded footballers. Some were all-time record holders, others were Ballon d’Or or World Cup winners. Amongst them was an unsung hero. A loyal servant of 13 years in a team led by Sir Matt Busby, was none othan Tony Dunne. Sadly, Dunne passed away this week at the age of 78.

The Irishman joined United in 1960 as an 19-year-old from Shelbourne waiting to make a mark in the world of football and help United establish itself two years after the Munich disaster. With a height of five feet six inches and raw pace, he helped United’s rapid attack from full-back. He ended up making 535 appearances for the club, the eighth highest in United’s all-time appearance list, just behind the likes of Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney.

The highlight of his career at United was his integral role during United’s 1968 European Cup victory. With United becoming the first English team to lift the cup, it was this moment that established him as one of the greatest left-backs to ever play for United. He was considered a complete player who could play on both flanks. Irish football recognised his greatness by naming him the Irish footballer of the year in 1969. While the European cup was the pinnacle of his career, he also won the FA Cup and two First Division titles with the club. On the international stage, he got to play for the Republic of Ireland on 33 occasions, out of which he captained them on 4.

Dunne had an interesting stint with United. It came as a surprise after his achievement during the European cup that he transferred for free to Bolton Wanderers. It was later revealed that his bitter relationship with then-manager Tommy Docherty was one of the key reasons for his sudden departure. It was indeed a sad ending to an illustrious association.

Dunne retired after making 755 appearances at the club level with his last club being Detroit Express in the North American Soccer League. He may not have been as well-known or heralded as his other United teammates, but was certainly as important as any of them. In spite of departing from United on bitter terms, Dunne was and will be one of the most revered players at Manchester United. May his soul rest in peace.