U’s boss Dunne felt like a player again!

Joe Dunne

Joe Dunne - Credit: Archant

It was just like he was donning the No. 2 shirt again!

Joe Dunne felt all the emotions of a player, for the first time since he became Colchester United boss just over 13 months ago, at the end of last Saturday’s dramatic 2-2 draw at Rotherham.

Dunne has tried to remain level-headed, by containing his raw emotions, during the first year or so of his first job in management.

But, for a brief moment at least, he had a flashback to the raw emotions he used to feel as a player, when operating as a no-nonsense right-back for the U’s during the second half of the 1990s and through to 2001, before a knee injury ended his career.

“In the whole 13 months I’ve been in charge, that’s the closest I’ve felt to being a player,” confessed Dunne.

“Even at the end, when I was going over to the fans, I don’t do that normally.

“I just felt like I was really playing the part as a player.

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“I was a bit animated at the end to our fans, that’s just the passion in me.

“That’s the first time I have shown true emotions, and I don’t really care!”

U’s boss Dunne, now aged 40, only scored nine league goals during his career, six of them for Colchester United.

But the Dubliner bagged a couple of late goals that were just as dramatic as Elliot Lee’s 95th minute equaliser at Rotherham.

In fact, his penultimate appearance as a player, at Cardiff City’s old Ninian Park ground on November 20, 2001, produced one of his best moments as a player.

The U’s were trailing 1-0 and had not mustered a shot on target all evening when Dunne popped up with the unlikeliest of equalisers in the 87th minute to stun the Welsh crowd.

Earlier in his career, Dunne was also crowned a hero when scoring a late winner at Mansfield Town, in a 2-1 victory on April 27, 1996, to effectively secure a fourth tier play-off spot for Steve Wignall’s side.

Back to the present, and it’s no wonder then that Dunne, who prided himself on playing with passion and character as a defender, should be pumped up by his own side’s gutsy, against-the-odds, last-gasp draw at the New York Stadium.

“My players went out in the second half and showed character,” continued Dunne. The U’s were 2-1 down and had been completely out-played.

“I told them to get the music on as loud as they wanted (in the dressing room). Sometimes these points are as good as wins.

“That’s the fight and character and spirit that we need. When we can’t play football, we need that.

“We’ve been trying to get the balance of that over the last 12 or 13 months.

“I think this year we’ve seen it, with the character we’ve been able to grind out results.”

The severely injury-hit U’s – now undefeated in three matches – host fellow League One side Sheffield United in the FA Cup first round on Saturday, with Swindon the visitors to The Weston Homes Community Stadium the following weekend.