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Dublin: 9°C Friday 7 May 2021

Happy Richard Dunne Day! It's 5 years since one of Irish football's greatest performances

Never forget.

Source: Keepitonthedeck/YouTube

“PUT ON MORE Russians,” Richard Dunne barked according to popular mythology — but there were no more Russians.

He drew the Iron Curtain across Ireland’s goal, and Giovanni Trapattoni’s side left Moscow with a 0-0 draw on the back of one of the greatest individual performances in Irish football history.

Richard Dunne with the number 5 written on his jersey Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Dunne’s defensive heroics that night, five years ago today, earned a point which proved to be invaluable as Ireland clinched a place in the Euro 2012 play-offs and, ultimately, their return to the European Championships for the first time since 1988.

A 90-minute masterclass in relentless tackling, the big centre half instinctively knew where to be when Igor Semshov’s first-half shot beat Shay Given, somehow getting enough of a leg on the ball as it dared to cross the line.

You shall not pass.

A head wound, bloodied jersey and fastidious referee couldn’t hold him back in the second half.

“The enduring image… had to be Dunne,” wrote Emmet Malone in the Irish Times, “the blood wiped from his face after he had clattered into the running track beside the pitch after yet another frantic challenge, re-entering the fray with the number five written in felt tipped pen on the back of a new and otherwise blank shirt.”

That image remained the most iconic one of Dunne’s career until he announced his international retirement in 2014 at the age of 34; the man and the performance immortalised by fans in this flag.

A Richard Dunne flag Source: James Crombie/INPHO

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Let’s face it – Ireland are a long-ball team and that’s not going to change anytime soon

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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