Duff vows to stay put
Damien Duff has pledged his allegiance to Newcastle despite seeing the club relegated to the Championship. The Republic of Ireland international suffered the indignity of scoring an own goal on the final day of the 2008/09 season against Aston Villa, with that 1-0 defeat sending the Magpies through the Premier League trapdoor. Keen to make amends for his, and the club's, failings this term, Duff has now vowed to do all he can to help the club bounce back into the big time at the first time of asking. That means he will not be seeking a summer exit from St James' Park and will instead be leading the club's promotion charge next season. "I'm as loyal as they come and, whether the gaffer (Alan Shearer) stays or goes, I'd love to try to get Newcastle back up into the Premier League," said Duff. "I don't know what words can describe the way I feel. I'm devastated. The lads haven't tasted relegation apart from me at Blackburn and Nicky Butt at Birmingham. "When it happened at Blackburn, I wasn't planning on seeing it again in my career. It's not a nice feeling. "No disrespect to the Championship, but Newcastle are too big a club to be down there. I plan on being straight back up (in the Premier League) after next season." Duff has also called on the Magpies board to hand temporary boss Shearer the managerial reins on a permanent basis. "I've loved working with him," he said. "It's been a proper, proper football club for eight weeks, and it's about time. It's just disappointing we couldn't stay up for him and the fans. "I think he's been brilliant even though we haven't got the results to keep us up. "It's the first time in a long while that this place has felt like a proper football club. Things are done right and it's been a breath of fresh air. "If there's one man to get us back up, it's Alan Shearer." Devastated Meanwhile, Newcastle defender Steven Taylor, one of the Magpies' local lads, admits relegation has hit him hard. "It's the worst feeling I've had as a professional footballer. It's the worst day in our careers," he admitted. "The dressing room was like a funeral afterwards. Everybody was devastated. I've got the European Championships with England Under-21s to focus on now. That's all I can do, but this is something I'll never, ever forget. "The 3,000 Newcastle fans who came down to Villa Park are the reason you play. It's got to be an honour to play for Newcastle United Football Club. "No matter who you are, what club you have played for, you've got to give it 100 per cent every single game. It can't be like the last 10 months, when it hasn't been good enough. "I know there will be changes at this football club, but I don't know what's going to happen. As players, we haven't got a clue. "But I'd just ask the fans to stick with us next year. We'll be giving everything to get the club back up where it belongs."
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