Damien Duff going solo to get his game time these days

Former Ireland winger admits that he is struggling to cope with recent retirement

Former Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff with the new national jersey. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.

Former Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff with the new national jersey. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.

 

It is still early days but Damien Duff admits that he already struggling to cope with retirement. The five-a-sides with mates aren’t quite providing the fix he requires and, having quickly abandoned a plan to play Leinster Senior League this season with TEK, he found himself hiring an astro pitch all to himself a couple of weeks ago just to kick a ball. If there is a Footballers Anonymous out there with a list of ways to spot you have a problem, that, one suspects, is right up near number one.

Yesterday he was in Dublin’s city centre working for Lifestyle Sports on a promotion (see lifestylesports.com/greenticket) that gives fans who have missed out on tickets to Euro2016 the chance to win an all expenses paid reprieve.

Oddly, perhaps, he doesn’t seem too broken hearted that he will not be going to France himself as part of Martin O’Neill’s squad but not playing at a high level hurts. For the first time since he was a kid, Duff is reduced to knocking a ball against a wall when there is nobody else to play with. He shakes his head and laughs at the thought of it while wondering aloud how many kids today possess that love of the game required to live the best part of their life with a football at their feet.

Next generation

The Irish Times

“You can look deeper but on the surface level it’s about getting out on the roads, that’s where it starts.”

Whether the next generation will be inspired by the heroics of this Irish team in France remains to be seen but Duff is unapologetically optimistic, pointing to what he sees as Sweden’s heavy reliance on one star player – Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and what he suspects to be a lack of collective commitment on the part of the world’s top ranked side, Belgium.

“Maybe if they had a bit of what Leicester City have, yeah, I would be all over them,” he says of Marc Wilmots’s men. “But Benteke, Origi are having disappointing seasons, De Bruyne will be coming back from a similar operation to what I had and I’m still sore and that’s two years ago. Listen, they have amazing players but I don’t think they have togetherness that Ireland have.”

A little bit of the Leicesters, on the other hand, can take Ireland a long way, he reckons. “Without a doubt yeah, I think you saw that against Bosnia, although I was disappointed with Bosnia. We steam-rolled them with hunger, desire and hard work and it goes a long way.”

He is he says “rooting” for the surprise Premier League leaders to hold on and lift the title but, after all the upbeat comparisons, it turns out that he is not at all confident that it will happen.

“I’m rooting for them yeah, but still just expecting them to slip up,” he says. “I can’t believe it. You might hit me with a team that has done something similar, but I don’t remember one in any league. It just shows you how far hard work and togetherness and hunger can get you. Compare the squad to Arsenal, City, any of the top-five or six and it’s night and day. I’d still be a bit worried about them for the run-in. But like everyone else I want them to win it.

“I find it incredible that they are up there, especially with Claudio (Ranieri) at the helm. This time last year with a similar squad I think they were third or fourth from bottom.

‘Amazing guy’

Chelsea

“No doubt he’ll have them all working hard, that’s what he did at Chelsea. But there’s that thing that hovers over him – I don’t think he has ever won a league anywhere. Maybe he might have won a ‘B’ or a Championship type league, but I don’t think he’s won a top league.”

The man who replaced him at Chelsea, on the other hand, has made a habit of winning them and Duff has no doubt about whether José Mourinho should succeed Louis van Gaal at Manchester United.

“I think he’s the only man for the job,” he says. “I think after Guardiola signing with City, Manchester (United) have to come out and make a massive statement. There’s no bigger one than that.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.