Damien Duff has had some nerve-wracking experiences throughout his career.
He’s played in Europa League finals, League Cup finals and some crucial matches for the Republic of Ireland.
But according to Duff, the most stressful experience of his life came not as a player but as a prospective coach for Celtic.
After a spell with Shamrock Rovers’ youth set-up, Duff left for Glasgow in early 2019 and the current Ireland assistant coach has revealed that the interview process for the reserve role at Celtic left him “absolutely rattled.”
“I just got a few calls going ‘Celtic would like to talk to you about their reserve team role’ and I was like, ‘What do they want me for?'” Duff told Si Ferry’s Open Goal podcast.
“I had a couple of these over a month. Then it was more concrete. Peter Lawwell wanted to speak with me. I rang Peter and then obviously spoke to Chris McCart. It kind of just got out of hand then. I was just planning on living in Ireland.
“I thought the job was mine, being a bit stupid. Chris said to come over and have a look around the place and see if you want the job. Then he rings me back an hour later and says, ‘The interview will start at two o’clock. You have to do a presentation, then a practical on the pitch and then I was thinking, ‘Oh, it’s actually not your job’.
“Then the ego took over and I thought, ‘Right, I’m going to go and get this job or get offered it anyway’. I went over and it was the most nerve-wracking out-of-your-comfort-zone stuff I’ve done.
“There was a general chat for an hour and then presenting to Brendan Rodgers and John Kennedy. I played three-box-three here with my 15-year-olds.
“So I was presenting to Brendan how to play three-box-three, mortified, he knows better than anyone. I’ve got my footage saying, ‘If he goes here, he should go here’ and I’m just thinking, ‘Duffer, just shut up, man’.
“Then I had to go out on the pitch for 40 minutes with the reserves who were a miserable group. They’re at an age where they’re like, ‘I’m not in the first team and I’m getting dragged in here at four o’clock in the afternoon to get coached by this muppet from Ireland’.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, without a doubt but fortunately, I got offered the job.
“Football was just natural to me, you get the butterflies and a bit of tension, which is good. But this, I was just absolutely rattled. I couldn’t take my blazer off because I had big sweat patches. Ah, rattled!”
Duff got the job and eventually became a first team coach with the Hoops before accepting a position as a member of Stephen Kenny’s backroom staff for the Republic of Ireland.