Damien Duff Exclusive

Thursday 28 February 2013 12:00
Despite turning 34 in March, Damien Duff is still tearing up the Premier League just as he has done since bursting onto the scene at 17. A great deal has happened since the Irishman first arrived at Craven Cottage in August 2009, with the player impressing greatly on the banks of the Thames - where his natural talent, honest determination and vibrant edge have been key components of the Club’s recent success.

With his loping stride and unconventional gait, he’s a captivating mix of fluency and endeavour - facets that have made him the scourge of full-backs for more than a decade and a half.

Duff may be a notoriously serene character, but he is one that comes to life with the ball at his feet. He is the perfect example of someone that prefers to let his feet do the talking.

“I don’t like watching myself on television talking and if I see an interview I did in a paper, then I can’t even read it. Some players love it, but I hate it. To be honest, I don’t think I have anything of interest to say.”

He’s wrong. For Duff has enjoyed a significant 16 seasons in the game. Having made his breakthrough at Blackburn Rovers just two months after his 17th birthday, he would go on to make 224 appearances for the Lancashire club before moving to Chelsea in July 2003 for a reported £17m.

Having helped his first club to the League Cup in 2002, at Stamford Bridge he would win another League Cup, plus two Premier League trophies. 

Time at former club Newcastle United, who he joined in July 2006, was mixed, but on the international stage Duff continued to shine. Last summer, he retired having won 100 caps for the Republic of Ireland, which included an impressive showing at the 2002 World Cup.

“I’m proud of that, but it’s probably something that I’ll reflect upon in more detail when I’ve retired from the game totally,” he admits. “I’m not planning on finishing my career any time soon, though.

“It’s been a nice journey, with lots of ups and downs - but that’s football. I’ve had a great time; football is the love of my life, so I’m a very lucky man. The current campaign is my 16th full season in professional football. When you start out, you don’t look too far ahead. While I want to play for a bit longer, I am at that stage where I’m starting to think about what happens next.

“When I’m finished, God knows what I’ll do. Football is all I really know, and no doubt some would say all that I’m really good at. Before I signed for Blackburn as a kid, I remember being at school, aged 14 or 15, and having teachers laugh when I said I wanted to be a professional footballer.

“You’d get some kids saying that they wanted to be a doctor, policeman or solicitor or whatever, but for me it was only ever football. When I think back, I was probably a bit of a laughing stock, but hopefully I’ve proved a few people wrong.”

Indeed he has, and with some assurance too. When moving on to discuss his time with Fulham, where he is fast approaching 150 appearances in all competitions, Duff offers up a surprising riposte.

For despite helping Blackburn to their first domestic cup in 74 years and lining up in the UEFA Champions League (he was part of the Chelsea side that reached the Semi-Final in 2005) and winning two league titles with the Blues, it’s his time with the Whites that has proved most rewarding for the player.

“This Club has a wonderful feel about the place,” reveals Damien. “I love playing at Craven Cottage - it’s special. In my football career, believe it or not, my happiest times have been at Fulham.

“The Club has been amazing to me. I probably experienced a bit of a lull at Newcastle so, in a way, Fulham has been my saviour. I love pulling on the shirt, and giving my all to the cause - and long may that continue.”

To read the full Damien Duff interview be sure to pick up your copy of Issue 40 of Fultime magazine which is instore now, priced £3.50. You can also purchase your copy from our online store here

The latest edition also features in-depth discussion from Manager Martin Jol, Sascha Riether, Matthew Briggs, Les Strong, Steve Wigley, Erik Nevland and Fulham fan and television presenter Millie Clode. We also take a look at the Club in the 1960s, provide the second instalment of the 100 Men Who Shaped Fulham Football Club, and offer a comprehensive guide to all of the Club’s January transfer window purchases down the years.