DAVID Dunn, like thousands of young footballers growing up in the 90s, idolised Paul Gascoigne.

It is to Dunn’s huge credit then that, at the peak of his powers, he was one of the closest, in style, this country has had to Gazza 


The barrel-chested physique, the cheeky glint in the eye, the razor-sharp football brain, the bravery, and the breathtaking speed he could with travel with the ball at his feet – the young Rovers midfielder shared many of the qualities possessed by his boyhood hero.

It is a shame, then, whereas Gascoigne made 57 appearances for England, Dunn was restricted to just the one solitary cap.

Injuries certainly played a part and the man himself, with typical honesty, will tell you that his contemporaries and rivals for a place in the Three Lions midfield, players of the calibre of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, had something he did not.

But it could be argued he was also the victim of English’s football slavish devotion to 4-4-2.

Dunn proved he was more than capable of playing in a two and, like Gerrard, Lampard and, most criminally, Paul Scholes were forced to do for England, he could do a job on the left.

But he was always more of a free spirit, always more of a Gazza than a Roy Keane, and you cannot help but wonder whether he would have enjoyed more sustained success had the 23-year-old Dunn been playing today.

As part of fluid three behind a lone striker in the in-vogue formation now deployed by England and countless other teams, both national and domestic, you can imagine him wreaking havoc.

But, as Dunn prepares to run out at Ewood Park for the final time, now is not the time to think about what might have been.

Now is the time to celebrate one of the most talented players to pull on a Rovers shirt.

I have reported on Dunn in the twilight of his career yet he has still provided moments of majesty over his last two seasons at the club.

There were the wonderful solo goals against Bolton and Blackpool, the sublime assist for Craig Conway at Watford and, most recently, the magnificent performance in the FA Cup win over Charlton when he glided across the pitch like it was his own personal playground.

Just like Gascoigne did, when Dunn’s plays like that, he makes the game look fun.

But, to his frustration, that is one of only two starts he has made this season.

But that will change on Saturday, giving Rovers fans the chance to deliver a fitting send off to one of their own, the boy who made it off the terraces and on to the pitch and who, at his very best, was rightfully compared to one of the greatest footballers this country has produced.