As part of an exclusive series, Goal in collaboration with Manchester City and TECNO are speaking to Man City legends to learn more about their time as a Sky Blue.
In the second episode of this series, Shaun Goater and Richard Dunne sit down with Goal India’s trainee Manchester City correspondent to discuss their first and last game as a Sky Blue.
As far as Manchester City is considered, Shaun Goater and Richard Dunne are bonafide cult heroes. They’ve had some memorable moments during their time with the Sky Blues. The two legends take us through their eventful first and last matches for the club.
Having started his professional career at Manchester United as a 19-year-old, Goater had highly successful spells at Rotherham United and Bristol City, playing as a frontline striker. He would go on to join Manchester City on deadline day in March 1998, taking up the No. 10 jersey.
Reminiscing the special feeling of his first home game, Goater said, “I remember the actual walk in, as we came onto the pitch, you see the first tier, you hear the crowd, you walk another 5 yards, you see the second tier. I’m a little kid who’s come from this small island and here I am playing at Maine Road for City in front of 34,000 people.”
Goater who hails from Bermuda is undoubtedly the finest footballer in the country’s history, with June 21st being celebrated as “Shaun Goater’s Day” on the island. He was the one constant shining light through City’s tumultuous period in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Richard Dunne, on the other hand, belonged to the next generation which acted as a bridge between the old, unpredictable City and the new flashy, high-flying version who are a force to be reckoned with in Europe. The hard-tackling centre back and former Irish international joined City in the autumn of 2000 after four years at Everton.
“I remember it was a tough season. We were not the greatest side in the club’s history, but we gave it everything every week. The honour of playing for City is to be able to say that we went and tried and gave it everything we had,” stressed Dunne.
It was Dunne’s fighting spirit and grit that captured the hearts of City fans, who voted him player of the season four times consecutively from 2004-05 to 2007-08, still a club record. Not to be left behind, the City hierarchy rewarded his consistent performances week in week out by appointing him captain in 2006.
Goater, meanwhile, fondly recalled the 1998-99 playoff finals against Gillingham at Wembley and attributes City’s thrilling comeback victory as one of the best examples to illustrate the values that Manchester City represent.
“This is something I learnt most in that playoff final. Go to the end, fight till the end. Don’t give up,” said Goater about the match. Having had to come from two goals behind, City scored two times after the 89th minute to equalize, taking the game into extra time and then coming out on top in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.
Taking his cue from that, Dunne paid tribute to the club motto” Superbia in Proelio”, translating to Pride in Battle in Latin, which he considers to be emblematic of Manchester City as a club.
“Having pride in everything you do and making sure that you do your best. That’s what Man City was for me. It doesn’t have to be on the pitch or the training ground. It’s just in life,” said Dunne.
The 2001-02 season was Goater’s most successful in terms of numbers as he racked up more than 30 goals. But the arrival of big money signings like Nicolas Anelka, who was City’s most expensive ever buy at that time, resulting in a lack of game time. He decided to bid adieu to City after five seasons at the end of the 2002-03 season.
Talking about his last game, Goater said, “When you know it’s your last game for the club, you waste a lot of energy with the thoughts of how the days are going to be because you still want to perform really well. I wouldn’t say that I played great. I just did okay.”
Goater is a true modern-day City legend who helped steady the ship and revive the spirits of the City faithful in uncertain times. On the other hand, Dunne didn’t realize it was his last game when City stepped out to face Wolves at the Etihad in August 2009.
“I had heard rumours that I was going to be sold and I didn’t want to leave. I was happy to stay there. The sun was shining, and fans were buzzing because we were winning games and looked like the start of a new era,” he said.
At his peak, Dunne was one of the most fearless centre backs in the Premier League, who led from the front playing selflessly. Nobody could question his commitment towards the cause.