By Ciaran O’Raghallaigh
Damien Duff will wear the armband of Ireland captain against Italy tomorrow – after Robbie Keane demanded the Ballyboden winger be honoured on his 100th cap.
Duffer, who said he had to be ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ to the pre-match press conference, was ever the modest, unwilling hero, and said he’d rather three points ahead of the 100 caps.
“I don’t want to make a big thing of anything,” Duffer said, letting the duvet slip off his shoulders.
“I know it’s a feat, but I just want to get a good performance and a good result tomorrow.
“It’s an awfully proud moment, but I’d take three points ahead of 100 caps. I know how much it means to me and my family, but I don’t want to make a big deal of it.
“I want to get on with the game and do the business.”
As everyone aged over 30 in football is linked with a job abusing his former team mates with a job in the media, or a move to Qatar, it was only to be expected that Duff would be asked about retirement – but there seems little chance that the player who often turned up on international duty in his civvies when injured, would walk away.
“I’ve made my mind up as to what I am going to do,” he said, rubbing his chin, “it’s probably not the right time to talk about it, but in terms of playing on into the mid-30s, I’m feeling as good as ever, so I don’t see why not.”
Damien Duff. Take a bow.
Keane was more than happy to pass the honour to Duff, who has come through the ranks with the Tallaght man.
“He’s been a massive player for us since we made our debut together, we’ve been through a lot.
“He is a top class player and the respect he has, you can see how people speak so highly of him.
“We’ve been good friends since our debut, so it’s only right I do this gesture because he is one of the best players the country has ever produced.”