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Daily Mirror (UK): Terry Dunfield "I thought I was a rock star"


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He certainly seems to be in a happier place now.



BY his own frank admission, Terry Dunfield thought he was a rock star when he made his Manchester City debut against Chelsea.

He was right. His career was heading for the rocks. At 19, Dunfield had three cars - a four-wheel drive Jeep, an Audi TT and a BMW.

The Jeep was for towing his speedboat, which was moored on the canal backing on to his city centre apartment.

He was captain of City's reserve team, which included Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton and Dickson Etuhu. His portrait hung on the walls of City's academy next to SWP.

The boy wonder who had left home in Vancouver at 15 after he was scouted by City, had the world at his feet - but he gave it away like a careless back pass.

Within five years, Dunfield found himself driving forklift trucks in a factory to make ends meet. And making the tea at an investment company in Knutsford, whose clients included several footballers.

It finally hit home how far he had fallen when he served coffee to a customer waiting to stash away his new-found wealth - Kevin Nolan.

On the weekend when City and Chelsea, the nation's two richest clubs, meet again at Stamford Bridge, Dunfield will be re-booting his career 4,710 miles away for Vancouver Whitecaps on the first day of a new Major League Soccer campaign.

"If I sat down now and tried to figure out how I ended up as a glorified teaboy after landing a great contract with Manchester City at 18 years old, I'm not sure I could do it," said Dunfield, now 29 and a Canada international.

"They knew I was an ex-player and they probably wanted me to serve coffee to the current pros as they arrived for meetings so we had something in common.

"But it should have been me walking into that office, setting up a trust fund, topping up my pension, not asking visitors if they wanted one lump or two."

It was 10 years ago, as City slid out of the Premier League, that they called on Dunfield as a first-half substitute at Maine Road.

"I remember the boss Joe Royle sending me on with the advice: 'Don't look up at the Kippax'. Of course, it was the first thing I did, and I thought, 'Wow, I've made it'. Big mistake.

"Maybe it all went to my head a little, maybe it all happened too fast for me. But within a few weeks, Kevin Keegan had taken over, bringing in players like Eyal Berkovic and Ali Benarbia, and my first-team opportunities disappeared.

"I became so frustrated that I asked to leave City so I could join Bury. My dad was so horrified he hardly spoke to me for three years!

"In truth, I had found it difficult dealing with the hype. I was just a kid, a long way from home, with all those trappings of success - the cars, the boat, the lifestyle - and when I went off to play in the Under-20 World Cup, facing the likes of Kaka and Adriano, I thought I'd got it made."

A broken kneecap, which curtailed his career with Bury, soon transported Dunfield out of his comfort zone. Crocked, and with a sizeable mortgage, he found himself on the forklifts or serving coffee to keep the breadline at bay.

Although City nursed him to recovery as an honorary out-patient, three years trawling the glamorous outposts of League Two with Macclesfield and Shrewsbury, only made him crave the big time.

So after paying up the last year of his contract with the Shrews, he moved to the Whitecaps.

And today he will play in front of 25,000 fans against Toronto at the Empire Field in Vancouver.

His Whitecaps skipper is Jay DeMerit, the former Watford defender and USA World Cup defender, further proof - after David Beckham and Thierry Henry - that the MLS brain drain is no longer the exclusive preserve of Europe's has-beens and never-going-to-bees.

And apart from the memories, at least Dunfield has something special to show for his City career - a fiancee.

He went back to Manchester at Christmas and proposed to long-time girlfriend Stephanie Hill, a solicitor, on her home turf.

Ahhh... even in football, everyone likes a happy ending.

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Great story. If I recall correctly, the Province in Vancouver had a similar story back when he joined the USSF D2 team. Having been through all the ups and downs of the professional game, you know Dunfield has a great appreciation for where he is now and can expect him to play his heart out each and every game. After some rough years, he's landed back on his feet and you can tell he's loving every minute of it. Between DeMerit and him, the Whitecaps have assembled some real character guys who've fought hard to get to where they are now. I believe Dunfield will be the true heart and soul of the team.

w00t century post for me!

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