Duff rewarded with captaincy on 100th cap

17 June 2012 07:48

Damien Duff will captain Ireland for the first time as he wins his 100th cap for the team against Italy in their final Euro 2012 Group C game here on Monday.

Ireland have already been knocked out of the competition and are playing for pride against the Azzurri, who must win to stand a chance of making the knock-out rounds.

And it will be a big moment for 33-year-old Duff, who made his international debut 14 years ago.

"I am happy to acquiesce to the team's request to pass the captain's armband to Damien Duff who will celebrate his 100th cap tomorrow," said Ireland's Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni.

"All of us are grateful to Damien for his contribution not just as a football player but as a role model and example for future generations."

The quiet winger admitted he wasn't comfortable taking the limelight.

"I was dragged here kicking and screaming to be fair," he joked at the pre-match press conference. "I never want to make a big thing out of anything in life.

"I will look back on it and know it's a feat but at the moment I just want to get a good performance and result tomorrow.

"It's an awfully proud moment but I'd take the three points tomorrow ahead of the 100 caps.

"I know how much it means to myself and my family but I'm not trying to make a big deal of it and just get on with the game and do the business."

Duff said it won't be the first time he has had to lead the pre-match team talk but after two defeats in their first two Group C matches the former Chelsea, Newcastle and Blackburn star believes the troops will need little rallying.

"We used to take it in turns back in my Chelsea days but it's been a while," added Duff.

"It shoudn't be a problem to motivate the players, we just want to restore our pride in the green shirt.

"I don't think the lads will need a team talk to be fair."

Regular captain Robbie Keane said he was happy to be handing over the armband to a player with whom he made his debut against the Czech Republic in 1998.

"He's been a massive player since he made his debut, we made it together, we've been through a hell of a lot together," said Keane.

"As we all know he's a top class player and he has the respect around the dressing room from every player.

"We have people who speak so highly of him, when you're around him he's great company.

"We've been very good friends since we made our debut, it's only right for me to make this gesture because he's been a credit to this country and one of the best players we've produced."

When asked to reflect on his international career Duff picked out a painful memory as the one that has most stuck with him.

Losing to an outrageous handball goal from Thierry Henry in the play-offs to reach the World Cup in South Africa two years ago, is Duff's primary recollection.

"I always seem to remember the lows rather than the highs," he said.

"It was nice to get to the World Cup (the 2002 World Cup finals), my debut, my first goal. The lows: obviously the France game, that's never a nice moment in the Irish shirt."

Source: AFP

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