NEW reserve team coach Damien Duff insists Celtic are the only club he would have left Ireland to join.

The former Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Newcastle, Fulham and Republic of Ireland international winger, 39, has completed his move to the Scottish champions after the possibility of the appointment was first mentioned in November.

Duff, who has quit a backroom post at Shamrock Rovers, believes coaching at his boyhood idols will be “the next best thing” to performing in the green-and-white hoops.

He said: “I didn’t play for Celtic, but to come and coach here is top class.

“I had the kits all the way through, Celtic and Manchester United were my teams. I don’t think it ever got close, but, yeah, I would have come up here to play.

“I have loved every minute of it. I’ve been here 10 days, I went through the interview process six to eight weeks ago. I’ve brought the family, taken the kids out of school. If anyone else came calling – not that they did – it was the only club I would have left for.”

Duff, who becomes reserve team coach as former captain and central defender Stephen McManus takes over as Under-18s coach, worked with Brendan Rodgers when the Hoops gaffer was a coach at Chelsea.

The man who won 100 caps for his country said: “He was brilliant with me down there. We would obviously talk about Celtic; it’s my dream club, it was his dream club then.

“I’m not claiming to know everything. I feel like I’m learning the game all over again. When you stand on the touchline it’s a totally different viewpoint. I’m only a baby, I’m a year-and-a-half, two years in. So, it’s a massive road ahead, but I’m going to embrace it.

“Even away from the pitch, just getting into the lads’ heads what it takes to be a footballer. Across the board – not at Celtic – but in England, Ireland, Scotland, lads just do enough and think just doing enough is going to get you to be a footballer, but it’s not.

“You’ve got to do more than enough every day and empty the tank. It’s just that obsession.

“On the pitch, I’ll help them all I can. I’m on them 24/7 out there, I’m full-on, I’m passionate, I’m emotional. Once they realise it’s not me just being a pain, it’s because I care and I want to help.”

Rodgers has shown a lot of faith in Duff to bring through the next generation of Celtic first team players and it’s obvious the Irish playing legend is eager to hit the ground running in his new post.


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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