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Duff plays down taking captain's armband for 100th cap

A good result against Italy is all the Fulham winger is focused on ahead reaching the international milestone in what could be his last game in a green jersey.

Trap with Damien Duff today.
Trap with Damien Duff today.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

IT SHOULD, OF course, be one of the proudest moments of his career. The only problem for Damien Duff is that he hates all the pomp and fanfare around it. In fact, he hates talking about it at all.

With the winger set to earn his 100th cap tomorrow and, as such, captain the team, he admitted he had to be dragged “kicking and screaming” to the press conference in order to announce it.

“I’m never one to make a big thing of anything. At the minute I just want to get a good performance and a good result tomorrow.

It’s a proud moment, but I’d take three points ahead of 100 caps at the minute. I know how much it means to myself, my family but I’m not trying to make a big deal out of it. I just want to get on with the game and do the business.”

Duff will become only the fifth Irish player to reach the century. But that only gave rise to a more pertinent question: will he be one of the first to announce his retirement after this tournament. Yesterday, it seemed, he was certainly leaning that way.

“I think I’ve made up my mind but now is not the time to say.”

The captaincy, of course, also means that Duff will have to give a pre-match team talk tomorrow. But, even if Duff isn’t too fond of speaking, he insisted that few words will be needed ahead of the Italy game.

“We used to take turns back in the Chelsea days. It’s been a while but I don’t think it’s going to take much to rally the troops. I don’t think the lads will even need a team talk to be fair.”

Duff and his teammates evidently want to end this tournament on a high – which is just as well, because the winger ended the conference on something of a downbeat note when asked about special memories from his career.

I always seem to remember the lows rather than the highs. What went wrong this time? I don’t know. Obviously we weren’t good enough when it came to the crunch.”

Sitting beside Duff, Robbie Keane insisted that could never be said about his long-time teammate.

“He’s been a massive, massive, massive player since he made his debut. We’ve been through a hell of a lot together. As we all know, he’s been a top, top class player – one of the best we’ve ever produced.”

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