Duff suggests he's willing and able


Soccer:Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff has insisted he is still prepared to line out for his country if called upon. The Ballyboden man made his 100th appearance in Ireland’s final group game of Euro 2012 against Italy in Poznan last month. After he wore the armband that night, speculation was rife as to whether it would be his last game in an Ireland jersey.

However, the Fulham midfielder says he hasn’t given retirement much thought as yet and wants to play football, at any level, for as long as possible.

“There’s speculation just because of my age, I’m 33 years old, but I feel as good as ever, I feel 23,” he said while in Lebanon visiting Irish troops. “Listen I’m going to play until I drop.

“I don’t think I’m really interested in anything else. Fulham, Ireland, if I end up in the Airtricity League, the Leinster Senior League. I’m going to do all that. You may laugh but that’s the plan, it’s on my list. I’m just going to play until I drop so I have to look after myself to do that.”

Duff confirmed he had looked ahead with Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni to the first World Cup 2014 qualifier in Kazakhstan in September and he is ready to make the trip if needed.

“At the minute I’m still an Ireland player,” he said. “I never brought it up that I was thinking about retirement. I’ve spoken to Giovanni and Marco (Tardelli) and at the moment I’m still available.”

A disappointing campaign in Poland, where Ireland lost three from three and conceded nine, will be hard to bounce back before then. Duff believes it all could have been different had they not lost the opener 3-1 to Croatia.

“It all stemmed from the first game against Croatia, that was our cup final. If we got a draw or win, we could have kicked on from that. That was obviously a massive downer and didn’t help the rest of the tournament.

“It was a major tournament, it was a big thing for the country and for the players so it was a major disappointment not to win any games.”

On the support the team received, he added: “The fans were incredible. Getting beaten 4-0 and the fans were just singing... it would have been nice to get something to cheer about on the football pitch, but they stuck with us, which is important, so we will be forever grateful for that.”

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