After earning 80 Irish caps and enjoying spells at Man City, QPR, Everton and Aston Villa, Richard Dunne is without a doubt one of Ireland's most beloved players, with his 13-year international career etched in the hearts of many.
However, with Richard well retired, his youngest son Tayo is set to pick up the baton and follow in his father's footsteps. Fourteen-year-old Tayo Dunne earned his own first international call-up in April when he was selected for the country's extremely successful U15s side. Like father like son, Tayo is a defender as well, playing his club football with U.S Cap d’Ail Monaco where the Dunne's reside.
Off the back of Tayo being one of the youngest members of the Irish international set-up, Richard Dunne spoke to Ladbrokes about what his son's future in Irish football looks like with Richard determined not to let the early success define Tayo.
Tayo is very young, still. He's 14, so he's one of the youngest in the international set-up. The one thing which excited me when I looked at the Irish Under-15 squad was how talented it is. It was unbelievably good, and what I can say is that the whole academy set-up has progressed so much in recent years. There are some really talented players coming through.
When it comes to my own son, it's just a case of keep working hard, keep learning in training, things like that. If it happens, great, if it doesn't, well then you've enjoyed the journey of trying to get there. There's absolutely no pressure on him from me to make it as a superstar. I just want him to enjoy whatever it is he's doing and try his best.
Despite Dunne's confidence in the 'unbelievable talent' in the U15 set-up, the Irishman is only all too aware of how young his son is and how few players actually make it to the top flight of football, with Dunne keen to avoid putting pressure on Tayo.
There are so many kids that want to grow up and become footballers, and there's so many that just miss out. For it to happen, you have to work hard. You have to do things when people aren't watching, you've got to put extra shifts in, all the time. I know how hard it is to become a footballer, so I wouldn't put pressure on anyone to think they can go on and make it - I certainly wouldn't for my own son.
While Richard Dunne is obviously hopeful for his youngest child, the prospect of a move to England for Tayo is certainly bittersweet. As Tayo approaches the age at which his father crossed the Irish Sea, Richard Dunne finds the prospect of both his kids having left home at just sixteen daunting. It appears for the time being, the Irish legend is just hoping Tayo will enjoy his childhood.
He's not far off the age I was when I moved from Ireland over to England to sign for Everton. It's hard to think about that happening with him, to be honest. With my daughter, she moved out when she was 16 and went off to study at college and that was difficult to take, so to think about the other one leaving at 16 and all of a sudden we're home alone here, it's hard to think about! But it's a dream for him, and so if the opportunity came, I'd be so happy for him, and delighted he can go on and prove himself.
I don't want to compare him to anyone, but I will say he's a massive Man City fan. He's a midfielder, and he loves Man City, so obviously he loves Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, those guys... he's not like either of them in particular, but he's a really good player. It's very hard to talk too much about your own son and what he might go on to achieve in the game in the future, because he's just 14. He's out in the garden whenever he's got a spare minute, kicking the ball around, because that's what he loves doing. It's brilliant to see him doing that kind of thing, but above everything else, as I said, he's still so young, so the most important thing for me as a dad is that he enjoys his childhood too.
If Tayo does decide to pursue a career in football and is anything like the player his father was, the future of Irish football is in capable hands.