Former Leicester Celtic and St Kevin’s Boys player Damien Duff ended his long-standing career in the Premier League this week as he signed a one-year deal down under for Melbourne City FC.
Duff, a modern Irish legend, made 100 appearances for his country as well as lifting two Premier league titles and two League Cups with Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers. The old-fashioned winger played his last Premier League game back in February for Fulham when he was forced off with a knee injury.
Speaking to Newstalk after the move was announced, Duff said: “I’m really excited to be joining [Melbourne]. They’re a very ambitious club with great plans, and I’m looking forward to winning things at Melbourne City.”
Duff, who was a hero for Ireland at the 2002 World Cup, revealed the genesis of the move when speaking to Off the Ball this week.
“I met the Melbourne manager John van t’Schip two or three weeks ago and he was a great guy. It was the whole project really that excited me and it didn’t take much for me to get on board. I’m just really looking forward to meeting up with everyone and getting started.”
While many players depart to America or Australia when the rigours of the English game get too much for them, Duff was adamant he could have still played a part in the Premier League.
“To be fair, for a year or 18 months or so I’ve been looking at it and thinking life is too short and maybe I’d like to try something new. Body wise I could definitely handle a couple of more years in the Premier League, I just think a new challenge and to test myself in a different country is something to look forward to.”
When the move was announced, many saw it as confirmation that the Ballyboden native would be going against his former wishes to finish his career in Ireland, but he insisted: “I said it before many times that I would like to come home and finish my career in Ireland and that’s still the case so there’s life in the old dog yet.”
Melbourne now form part of the City group, controlled by Manchester City and which includes New York City, Spanish star David Villa’s new club.
Villa will actually join Duff in Australia for a short-term loan before the new MLS campaign. “I’m definitely excited to play with David Villa, he’s been an amazing player. You just have to look at his CV to realise that but I’m really looking forward to meeting the rest of the lads too,” he said on playing with Villa. “It’s a totally different way of life over there, but I’m going for footballing reasons, I’m not going for a holiday.”