Roy Hodgson has to be credited for resurrecting Fulham and turning them into a genuine top half side. In Europe and flying high in the Premier League, he has also made a number of excellent signings, Damien Duff being one of them. A £2.5 million signing from Newcastle United, Duff has shown this season he can terrorise defences just as he used to in his Blackburn and Chelsea days.
Joining Blackburn as a trainee in 1996 after playing for Leicester Celtic, St. Kevin’s Boys and Lourdes Celtic as a schoolboy in Republic of Ireland. He made his Blackburn debut at the age of 18 against Leicester City on the final day of the 1996-97 season.
After being relegated, Duff helped Blackburn achieve promotion back to the Premier League in 2000-01 and then win the League Cup the following season. In the 2002-03 season he finished top goal scorer for Rovers with 11 league goals.
A £17 million transfer to Chelsea followed and he started his Chelsea career well but was somewhat disrupted by injury. The arrival of Jose Mourinho threatened to put an end to Duff’s Chelsea career as he signed Arjen Robben, though Duff found solace on the right-wing and formed a great partnership with the Flying Dutchman as Chelsea went on to win two League titles and a League Cup. Injuries plagued Duff during the latter stages his career and was eventually transferred to Newcastle United for £5 million in 2006.
Duff’s Newcastle career can be summed up with one word; injured. He spent most of his time in the northeast on the treatment table. In the final match of the 2008–09 Season, against Aston Villa in a crucial relegation decider, Duff unluckily scored the deciding own goal that sent his side down. He voiced his intention to help Newcastle back into the Premier League but Hodgson and Fulham stepped in and brought the Irish winger back to London and back to the Premier League.
The transfer can only be described as a bargain; Duff has regained some of the form that led Chelsea to pay £17 million for his services an age ago. Reunited with his first boss Roy Hodgson, it seems he is happy playing once more and with 21 games so far this season for Fulham, it seems his injury problems are behind him. Hodgson has employed Duff mainly on the right-wing allowing him to cut inside more often and with a tremendous work rate he fits into the Fulham system extremely well.
At £2.5 million he could well prove to be the bargain of the season.
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