Seasoned campaigner

Richard Dunne holds the unwanted record for the number of own goals in the Premier League — his 10th arrived in the recent 3-2 home loss to Liverpool — but he brings a wealth of experience and is closing in on 500 Premier League appearances. By Jack Scott Paul.

At the start of the season QPR chairman Tony Fernandes and manager Harry Redknapp insisted lessons had been learned from their chastening experience in their last English Premier League campaign.

The Hoops’ demise last time around was put down to marquee signings such as Jose Bosingwa, Park Ji-sung, Julio Cesar, Chris Samba and Djibril Cisse failing to live up to their reputations and their sky-high wages.

Redknapp changed his policy this summer and recruited former England defender Rio Ferdinand following his release by Manchester United while Steven Caulker, impressive for Cardiff last season, also arrived at Loftus Road.

But one player who remained at the club was former Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne and he will play a pivotal part if QPR are to avoid an instant return to the Football League.

While Dunne holds the unwanted record for the number of own goals in the Premier League — his 10th arrived in the recent 3-2 home loss to Liverpool — he brings a wealth of experience and is closing in on 500 league matches.

Having grown up in Dublin, Dunne started his career at Everton at the age of 15, making his professional debut at 17. After firmly establishing himself at Goodison Park, Manchester City signed him for GBP3 million and he went on to make 296 league appearances over a nine-year period. Prior to City's takeover in 2008, Dunne was a key member of the squad. His qualities as a leader led to his appointment as captain in 2006 and his performances went on to see him winning City’s Player of the Year award four times.

While his ability to score an own goal is not in doubt, he is also no stranger to an early bath and collected his eighth red card, playing for City against Wigan in January 2009, which equalled a record shared by Patrick Vieria and Duncan Ferguson.

But following the signings of Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott that summer, Dunne’s time at City was up and he joined Aston Villa for GBP5 million. Dunne said: “They made it quite clear they didn't want me there any more.”

His first goal for Villa ironically arrived against his former club in a 1-1 draw in October and he was applauded by the City fans for refusing to celebrate the goal. Dunne played in the League Cup final defeat to Manchester United at Wembley in February and was named in the PFA Team of the Year.

A four-year stint at Villa Park saw Dunne lauded by Martin O’Neill and Alex McLeish. He was a distinct leader in the changing room and earned the respect of players and staff alike.

However, during the reign of Gerard Houllier he became the subject of several controversies. In 2011, off-field problems emerged as it was revealed Dunne was to face disciplinary action after a drunken argument with club staff. Previous to this, Dunne had reportedly had a training ground row with then assistant manager Gary McAllister.

Following a broken collarbone in February 2012 and persistent groin problems, Dunne was released in June 2013 due to fitness and wage concerns. In July 2013, Redknapp signed Dunne for QPR as a free agent and he has been a consistent performer at the back and is nearing 50 appearances.

His form saw him trigger a one-year contract extension having helped QPR to promotion back to the Premier League after a last-gasp 1-0 win over Derby in the play-off final at Wembley.

On the international front, Dunne has donned the green jersey of the Republic of Ireland on 80 occasions since making his debut against Greece in a friendly in 2000. Though his time with the national team has seen little success, he did help them secure qualification for EURO 2012 following a 5-1 aggregate play-off victory over Estonia.

Dunne described it as “the best experience I’ve probably had in football.” He went on to start all three Group C games, losing to Croatia, Spain and Italy. He decided to retire from international football this summer.

FACTFILE

NAME: Richard Dunne POSITION: Defender DOB: 21/09/1979 CLUB: QPR IRELAND CAPS: 80 INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 8 MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Being name Manchester City's Player of the Year a record four times. MOMENT TO FORGET: Netting his 10th own goal against Liverpool in October - a Premier League record.

© PA Sport