I think it's fair to say that Alan Dunne is a Lion through and through. The one-club man has made over 300 appearances for the Millwall during a 14 year professional career that is still counting. I chatted to him about all aspects of his career, from playing under Ian Holloway, to his plans for after retirement.
What is it about Millwall that’s led to you being there your whole career?
“I joined Millwall when I was 10 and knew nothing about the club. All I knew was that I was a Leo and Millwall were the Lions, so I put two and two together and thought, that goes well together. Along with that I knew that Millwall fans were feared and one of the hardest fans about, and as a 10 year old boy, I liked that. Twenty two years later and I’m still there, so there must’ve been some attraction! There’s something really special about the club”
Can you see yourself ever leaving the club?
“I know one day I’ll have to. It’s unrealistic to think otherwise but I would like to finish my career at Millwall, but then again I want to go on and become a coach and a manager, so one day I’ll have to leave. It’ll be sad, but that’s life.”
So do you reckon you’ll follow in Neil Harris’ footsteps and become a coach for the Lions?
“I’d like to – I want to get my head down for a few years and learn the trade, starting from the bottom and working my way up. Credit to Neil, he’s doing really well, but it’s a totally different game all together than playing.”
What’s it like to work under a character like Ian Holloway?
“Olly is one of the most honest people I’ve ever met, and he’s someone you can talk to on a professional level; he can be serious but he also knows when to have a bit of banter. His love for football is infectious and I couldn’t speak any higher of him. He’s a fantastic coach and he’s been great for the club, and I feel lucky to be able to work under him. A lot of players don’t enjoy their football, but I can honestly say I wake up every day and can’t wait to get in there, which is a credit to the club and the manager.”
If you had to describe the feeling of being made permanent captain in one word, what would it be?
"Proud! For someone like Ian Holloway to make me captain of a club he’s loved more than anyone in his whole career shows a lot of faith, and I feel immensely honoured.”
Olly’s bringing a lot of players from the academy into the first team, but who should we look out for in the coming seasons?
“Well done to Holloway for taking the risk because not enough managers do it nowadays. Fred [Onyedinma], Jack Powell and Aiden O’Brien. All three of them have had a bit of first team action, and they’ve each done fantastic. I think them and Sid Nelson have all got futures at Millwall as long as they keep impressing the gaffer.”
What would you describe as the highlight of your career so far?
“My testimonial celebrating 10 years at the club was brilliant because I had all my friends and family there. However that’s closely followed by winning Player of the Year of the 2009/10 season which was when we got promoted back to the Championship, and also of course being named as captain.”
Who’s the best player you’ve ever had to come up against?
“I’d say Gareth Bale back when he was at Southampton, and also Theo Walcott. Jermaine Defoe is a top player as well who I played on a West Ham away day so there was a great crowd. I played all these guys back when I was pretty pacy myself, but they were each just so hard to keep up with and could do great things with the ball.”
Given the club’s start to the season, where do you think Millwall will be in the league by the end of the season?
“Honestly, I think we need to aim to just improve on last year. For this season, I think anything above that would be a great achievement. There’s going to be a lot of players out of contract, which will lead to money being freed up to bring some more boys in, and then I reckon we’ll be able to have a good go at it. That combined with the young boys coming through, I think, will give us a good chance of finishing within the top six. Olly’s got us playing some great football, and were dominating the ball at the moment so I don’t see any reason why we won’t improve on last season, then finish near the top the year after.”
I met Alan at a charity boxing event in Rochester raise money for the fight against Motor Neurone Disease. If you could donate at all that'd be much appreciated.