|Kieron: One of Suffolk's Greatest Talents, Ill-Served by Dire Headlines|
Written by Superfrans on Sunday, 4th Aug 2013 12:58
Immediately after the confirmation last week by Kieron Dyer that he was retiring this summer, little was said outside of Suffolk about his departure from the game. It is a story which leaked out with relatively little fanfare, for a former England international and Premiership stalwart of more than a decade.
Until the other day, that is, and a Guardian piece labelling him as an average, overpaid footballer - "a wasted talent and poster boy for English game's excesses".
It is a caricature which is hugely unfair on Dyer, who (while no Gary Lineker) is among the most talented players to emerge from England in the past 20 years - and who has been dealt some cruel cards over that period.
Now aged 34, Dyer has spent 17 years since his debut as a 17-year-old plying his trade in the Premiership, gathering 33 caps for four different England managers - after a series of splendid early cameos on the international stage. There is no doubt he should have played more games than the 323-odd club appearances he chalked up too, especially when you consider that he had 98 appearances for ITFC under his belt before he was even 21.
But Dyer didn't make too few appearances because he fell out of favour with managers, or because he went on strike to force a move. He never made an active choice to sit in reserve teams for months on end, just to draw his salary. He never found himself on a string of suspensions because of bad behaviour. His body simply began to give up on him.
Unlike some other top level footballers, his keenness to continue playing the game led him to Championship clubs such as Middlesbrough and Ipswich to get games. Not for him the refusal to drop down from the Premier League, lower divisions were never above him. *cough* Michael Owen *cough*
Dyer was a player who never looked happier than when he was on the pitch. His early performances for Ipswich are fondly remembered by those who saw them, for his heart and enthusiasm as much as for his skill. It is saying something at a club which blooded the likes of John Wark, Kevin Beattie, George Burley, Darren Bent, Connor Wickham and Jason Dozzell as teenagers, that Dyer was among the best teenagers we have ever fielded.
He wasn't a player who looked reluctant to be on the pitch. He was a player who was always full of energy (injury permitting) and willingness to play. His greatest failure, perhaps, is the idea that he has always been a big kid, with a Gascoigne-like love for the game. Like Gascoigne, this passion for is perhaps best illustrated by the tears which he shed on the Portman Road pitch after failing to help Town achieve promotion in the 1999 play-offs.
Dyer's injuries have been tragic for the career of one of England's most talented players over two decades. Ultimately, Dyer's body gave up on him, his injuries reaching chronic levels following a double leg fracture early in his West Ham career, which sidelined him for 17 months. This was followed by two further injuries which West Ham failed to correctly diagnose (keeping him out for a further year) and David Sullivan's crass suggestion that he ought to retire through injury aged 31, as a transparent attempt to get him off the wage bill.
Of course, as a young man (suddenly enjoying untold wealth) Dyer had his moments. There are inevitable stories about burning twenties in an Ipswich bar (apparently witnessed by a crowd big enough to fill Portman Road, given the number of claimed first-hand witnesses), not to mention the buying of flash watches and expensive cars. But these are stories from the early period of high wages for young players, when teenagers were first becoming millionaires overnight.
In contrast to such tales, only Town fans (it seems) are aware of Dyer's financial support over several years of the ITFC academy, of his regular visits to the training ground at Playford Road, to youth matches when he has been back in Suffolk. Last week, he was back again helping support the launch of ITFC's Academy Association.
Now he has taken the decision to retire. Despite lucrative offers to play in Dubai and the US, he has decided to hang up his boots and return home to Suffolk, so he can stay close to his family.
Dyer isn't the greatest player in Ipswich's grand history, but he is certainly up there - perhaps one of the few figures from the past 20 years with even a tiny chance of making the all-time Ipswich Town first 15.
Like many other Town fans, I'm sure, I look forward to seeing the fella around Portman Road again over the coming months.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
Blogs by Superfrans
Blogs 270 bloggers
Reigning Champions Outfought By Town by clivebleedingthomas
The 1994/95 season ended with the Town bottom of the Premier League with only seven wins to their name. Nevertheless the season had its bright spots - Adam Tanner scoring to earn a 1-0 win at Anfield, our first victory there; the Budgies being relegated on the last day of the season, having accumulated 16 more points (43) than we managed; and in September 1994 this match against reigning Premier League Champions, Manchester United.
Lambert's Goals Take Town to the Top by clivebleedingthomas
The summer of 1974 had been an anxious period for Town fans. Will he or won’t he leave us? That question hung over us as uncertainty grew about Bobby Robson’s future. Don Revie had left Leeds to take up the England job and Bobby was seen as his likely successor.
And Along Came Jim by Moggasknockdown
Life without football is a funny old thing. Currently, in these most testing of times, the idea of missing football might seem like a triviality, an inconsequential itch amidst an existential crisis. Many of us miss the routine of it, the communality and regularity of it.
City Floored by Brilliant Viljoen by clivebleedingthomas
My father, Owen Sturley Nunn, known as 'Bob' to his many friends at Portman Road, kept an archive of newspaper reports of notable Town matches. I inherited the archive upon his death in 1987 and continued to keep reports of noteworthy games.
The Way Back From Here Will Be Long, But There is a Way by SomethingBlue
It's a delicate situation now, perhaps an existential one. People need to stay engaged, focused and angry – which I know isn't easy to do given the endless stream of kicks in the teeth. But articulated vocally and consistently – which hasn't ever happened yet – it will have an effect in time.