Andy Cole on Damien Duff.
Andy Cole has recalled how Damien Duff “lacked self-belief” when the pair played together at Blackburn Rovers.
Cole and Duff’s careers crossed paths for one-and-a-half seasons at Ewood Park when the English striker was entering his thirties and the Dubliner was emerging as one of the most talented young wingers in the Premier League.
Andy Cole: “Damien Duff had it all.”
By that point, Cole had seen it all, having won multiple honours at Manchester United, including the unprecedented 1998/99 Treble, so it’s fair to say he knew a young talent when he saw it.
Upon joining Blackburn in December 2001, Cole was instantly impressed by the 22-year-old Duff, who would go on to shine for the Republic of Ireland at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea just a few months later, before securing a big-money move to Chelsea in 2003.
“Damien Duff was one who did have it all,” Cole writes in his autobiography Fast Forward.
“All he lacked, in fact, was a bit of self-belief, but that came, and you could see from his time at Chelsea that this was a player who met the highest standards.”
Damien Duff was “a pleasure to play with.”
Cole goes on to state that Duff turned down Man United in order to move to Chelsea, something the current Shelbourne boss has previously addressed, but the England international certainly seems happy that he got to see his talents up close.
“Duffer actually turned down Manchester United for Chelsea, but I wasn’t surprised at all about how well he did there.
“He had this effortless skill. He would get it rolled into him, and he’d roll it off his left foot and turn inside, so natural the full-back would think he couldn’t get near him.
‘He’d scoot inside, drop his shoulder, go back outside. It was a joy to watch, and a pleasure to play with.”
— Blackburn Rovers (@Rovers) April 15, 2020
Cole and Duff collect silverware together.
Less than two months after Cole joined Rovers, the striker scored the winning goal in the 2002 League Cup Final as the club beat Tottenham Hotspur by a 2-1 scoreline.
Duff also played 90 minutes in that game in Cardiff, as he picked up the first major piece of silverware of his career, and Blackburn’s first since their famous Premier League success of 1994/95.
While the Irishman would go on to greater things, it’s clear that he left an impression on those who encountered him at Ewood Park.