Premier League Career: Blackburn Rovers (1998-2003, 2007-2012), Birmingham City (2003-2006)
David Dunn’s football career will always be linked with Blackburn Rovers. He made his professional debut with the former Premier League champions, had two separate playing spells with them and is the current assistant manager to Tony Mowbray as the Lancastrians aim for an instant return to the Championship.
The midfielder joined the club as a trainee in 1997. A year later, he made his debut at Goodison Park against Everton but it would turn out to be a very brief cameo. Roy Hodgson brought Dunn onto the field of play in the 70th minute. 11 minutes later, forward Martin Dahlin was sent off and in order to protect a point, Hodgson had to sacrifice Dunn for a more defensively-minded player. Nevertheless, he had made a first-team appearance and as the season went on, he got more chances. His first goal came in February 1999 during a 3-1 victory at Villa Park over Aston Villa. The season ended though in disappointment with relegation from the top-flight, just four seasons after Blackburn had become the champions of England.
David stuck with the club and they stuck by him too, seeing a young talent blossoming very nicely despite the team’s lack of direction. After two seasons in the First Division, Blackburn regained their place in the Premier League and Dunn put in a string of performances that earned him international recognition from England. He made one appearance for the senior side, replacing Kieron Dyer in the 1-1 draw with Portugal in September 2002.
He scored twice in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Highbury with Arsenal and starred in Blackburn’s 7-1 thrashing of West Ham United as they finished 10th in their first season back in the elite, along with winning the League Cup. He started the 2002-2003 season in good form but was one of a number of players to eventually fall out with manager Graeme Souness. Dunn decided he needed a fresh challenge in the summer of 2003. Despite interest from Everton and Middlesbrough, he eventually moved to the west Midlands, signing for Birmingham City in a £5.5 million deal.
His career with Birmingham started promisingly. He scored the solitary goal on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur and also scored a winning goal at St James’ Park in a victory over Newcastle United. In October 2003, he produced one of the ‘viral’ moments of the season when his attempted ‘rabona’ skill ended embarrassingly in the Second City Derby. He fell over, leaving manager Steve Bruce smiling at this clumsy skill attempt!
In total, Dunn made 58 league appearances for Birmingham, scoring seven times but he was unable to feature as prominently as was liked due to a succession of injury setbacks, especially with hamstring trouble. Birmingham were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2005-2006 season and after nearly joining Bolton Wanderers, he would move back to Blackburn Rovers in the 2007 January transfer window.
He played 11 times in the remainder of the 2006-2007 season, winning a late free-kick which Morten Gamst Pedersen scored from to defeat Sheffield United in February 2007. David would stay with Blackburn for the next eight years, even remaining with them after a crushing relegation from the Premier League in 2012. His best campaign came in 2009-2010, where he scored nine times. He became a leader in the dressing room too, being appointed vice-captain during Paul Ince’s short tenure as manager in 2008.
He finished his playing days with a brief spell at Oldham Athletic which led to a three-month stint as the club’s manager. When he was sacked in January 2016 with the Latics sitting 22nd in League One, he returned to Blackburn in a coaching capacity. He first worked as assistant manager to former teammate Damien Johnson in the club’s Under-23 setup before being promoted to first-team duties when Mowbray succeeded Owen Coyle as the manager of the team in February 2017.