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Damien Duff Describes The Woeful Conditions Which Led To Roy Keane’s World Cup Exit

Damien Duff Roy Keane

There were no shortage of interesting insights from Republic of Ireland assistant manager Damien Duff when he was interviewed on Si Ferry’s Open Goal podcast. 

In a wide-ranging interview, Duff spoke about how he was “rattled” during the interview process for a coaching job at Celtic while also recounted some of the more pleasant memories of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Inevitably, the subject of Roy Keane’s colossal exit from that tournament was raised and Duff admitted that the Cork man had every right to be outraged at the conditions which met the squad as they prepared for the competition on the island of Saipan.

Damien Duff Roy Keane

“I think the whole country [in Ireland] was blown up and divided,” Duff began.

“But footballers are selfish creatures…and I just wanted to play in a World Cup. If he was going home, OK, if he was staying, OK, but I was just focused on getting a starting spot in the team and playing well.”

Duff continued:

“He had every right to be mad at the facilities out there. It was a fucking shambles [and] he had every right to lose his rag.”

Damien Duff Roy Keane

The former Chelsea winger then went on to describe the desperate conditions which proved to be their main preparation for the opening game against Cameroon.

“We were 10 [days] out from the World Cup,” Duff said.

“And we didn’t have footballs, the pitch didn’t have any grass on it and we had no training kit.

“Some of us saw the funny side of it but Roy flipped and decided he had had enough. He was constantly cracking, simmering and then he just exploded.”

Damien Duff Roy Keane

Duff added:

“I remember Mick asked for the pitch to be watered,” explained the former Chelsea winger, “but there was no grass on it so it was just like watering a mud-bath.

“Like, this island of Saipan had been caught in a bit of a time warp since the 1940s, and not much had changed since then. So it was this old man with a fire engine from the ’40s who had to water the pitch.

Damien Duff Roy Keane

“He was literally stood there with a hose in the middle of the pitch for what must have been, I don’t know, a couple of hours. But he hadn’t any idea how to water a pitch and when we pulled up he just rolled up his hose and drove off.

“It was like something from a comedy sketch and we just ended up playing five-a-side in the middle of the mud and the lads were just sliding around.

“Roy had every right to go crazy at the facilities.”

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter