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Thursday 17 October 2019

Richard Dunne: 'No defence for Keogh'

I was shocked when I heard that he was involved in this, I’d have expected more from Richard as a person, never mind fact he’s Derby’s club captain

Richard Keogh. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Richard Keogh. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Getting into a car with team-mates who had been drinking is likely to to be the costliest decision Richard Keogh will ever make.

And the worst aspect of what has happened with the Derby County players this week is that it's not just about players being out late or drinking, it's about drink-driving. 

People have been saying that the players will be lucky to get away with a fine.

To me, they are lucky to be alive. If you are a player and you go out drinking, if you turn up to training or for a match hung-over, you are putting your career in danger and it doesn't affect many people, apart from yourself.

But drink-driving is putting lives in danger and that's what those Derby players did when they got behind the wheel, though Richard wasn't driving, he was a passenger in the car.

Richard isn't 17 or 18, he's 33, so he should have had more sense than to get into a car with people who had been drinking.

I was shocked when I heard that he was involved in this. I know Richard well, he and his family came to visit me in France and he's such a sound bloke, you could see why he was club captain, the last person you'd expect to be in a situation like that.

So I'd have expected more from Richard as a person, never mind the fact that he's a senior player and club captain. What happened with the Derby players is not really in keeping with professional footballers these days, you expect a higher level of professionalism, compared to ten or 15 years ago.

The thought of players drink-driving is just terrible, and makes no sense. 

Allowed

I read that the club said they had allowed the players to go out until a certain time and then expected them to go home, but some players took it upon themselves and went out again.

WRITE-OFF: The scene of the car crash in which Richard Keogh suffered seasonending injuries; he was a passenger in the car
WRITE-OFF: The scene of the car crash in which Richard Keogh suffered seasonending injuries; he was a passenger in the car

If you cross a line like that you have to face the consequences. The club gave the squad the chance to have a meal and a few drinks, some team-bonding, and they over-stepped the mark.

And whatever the club throw at them now, those players have no defence.

I know Derby have said they will try and help the players rehabilitate from this but if they decide that they don't want players like that at the club, they will feel they're within their rights to get rid of them.

It's cost Richard so much, possibly cost him his international career and the Euros, maybe his career overall. 

I did a few stupid things in my time as a player. I nearly lost my career because of the way I was behaving at one stage.

But I never got into a car with someone who had been drinking. So Richard and the other Derby players have no defence at all in this matter. They know what they did and they have to face any consequences that come their way.

You can't come out of something like this and say you learned your lesson, the club might want to make a real example of the players.

In my case, at Manchester City, they put me out of the team and made me train on my own for a month because of how I was behaving.

I had to be in at 8.00am for training, be back at 5.00pm every day for more training, all on my own. They just told me that if I carried on the way I was behaving I wouldn't be back in the team - I had to change my ways and I did learn.

Kevin Keegan was the manager at the time and he wanted to sack me, it was the PFA who backed me, helped me. I got another chance. I was made see the way my career was going and I changed my ways, I had to.

That doesn't mean that I never had a drink again, it just meant that I knew when was the right time to have a pint and it was the wake-up call I needed.

Even going in to train on your own, no one around you, not being with the team, not even allowed to play for the reserves, that's punishment. That was the worst bit for me. It's not like I was injured and was in rehab for that.

Fit

I was fit and not allowed play or even train with the team, and I had time to think about things. You get a lot of time when you are in the gym on your own.

I really thought the days of players drinking excessively had gone.

The rewards now, even compared to when I played in the Premier League, are so big that you can do nothing to risk it.

If you know that the player beside you in the dressing room is being ultra-professional and not messing around, you realise that and you don't want to get left behind. Players know the damage that drinking can do so you clean up your act, you stay clean.

It's odd that it was a Dutch manager who has been at Barcelona for so long who allowed the night out at Derby, but he's probably used to a night out with Barca meaning a few glasses of wine. Maybe he didn't realise the culture that seemingly persists in England.

The professionalism is higher now but you still have that element in British and Irish players who take the risk.

And I think Mick McCarthy will feel let down. Richard will feel sorry for himself but he's let his club and Ireland down.

We had a strong back line for the first few qualifiers, and now our opportunities to get to the Euros have been damaged, with Richard and Shane Duffy missing.

But Richard has no defence.

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