Damien Duff on ‘quickest promotion known to man in any job’

‘It’s obviously a massive step up. There will be more quality and a quicker tempo’

Damien Duff is the new Celtic first team coach. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Damien Duff is the new Celtic first team coach. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Damien Duff is ready to fight for the cause at Celtic in his new role as first-team coach.

The Irishman recently joined the club’s coaching set-up, initially working with the reserves, but after Tuesday’s shock departure of Brendan Rodgers to Leicester he was moved up to form part of interim boss Neil Lennon’s backroom staff, along with John Kennedy.

On Wednesday night the new management team debuted with a last-gasp 2-1 win at Hearts, a result which keeps the Hoops eight points clear of Rangers at the top of the Premiership.

Former Republic of Ireland international Duff told Celtic TV he is keen to provide whatever help is required for success.

“I’m ready for it,” he said. “I know the role and I know the club, and it’s a massive honour.

“Celtic is more than a club. Here, you’re fighting for more than that — you’re fighting for a cause as well. I know what the club means to fans. It means the same to me, so I’m ready. I understand the club and, Celtic Football Club aside, myself and football, I’m all about emotion and enthusiasm.

“It was only three or four months ago that I’m with the Shamrock Rovers Under-15’s, playing in the national league there, and all of a sudden I’m on the sideline for the Celtic first team. So you have to have a giggle about the last couple of days. It’s probably the quickest promotion known to man in any job.”

Duff admits there is a part of him “that’s sad to see the back of the reserves for now.”

The 39-year-old former Chelsea, Newcastle and Fulham player said: “I felt like they were starting to really understand me and the way I work.

“The game against the Kilmarnock reserves is the best they’ve been, and for 70-80 minutes they were brilliant.

“What I’ve enjoyed up until now is improving young players. I feel I’m good at it, so I guess I’ll miss that side of it, but I’ll still be keeping an eye on them and helping them whenever I can.

“There were four or five of them training with the first team after the Hearts game. That’s what the club’s built on, bringing youth through so nothing’s going to change.

“It’s obviously a massive step up to the first team. There will be more quality and a quicker tempo, but I’ll just be helping the gaffer and John wherever I can. That’s what I’m here for.”

With just five league game left this season, Duff is not looking too far forward: “Brendan’s a massive loss to the club, for me he’s created the best footballing team that the league has ever seen up here, and like I said it’s in no better hands with the gaffer now to carry things on.

“But I’m not getting carried away with things, I know how football can change, just like it has in the last week. So yeah just head down and carry on.”

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