When Damien Duff completed a £17 million move to Chelsea in the summer of 2003, he could not have known what the following years of football would have in store for him. Whilst some footballers experience the highs and lows that the game has to offer over their whole career, Duff has hit the top and the bottom in the space of a few years.
Rewind back to 2005 and Duff was a key player in a Chelsea side who experienced domestic domination. The winger had forged an effective partnership with the talented, but injury prone Arjen Robben and along with Didier Drogba, the trio formed the most dangerous front three in the league. He became a full backs nightmare with his pace and technical ability and provided a constant threat for the west London club.
However, Duff eventually found himself featuring less in José Mourinho’s side and sought a move elsewhere. He was snapped up by Newcastle United for just over £5 million in what was believed to be a major coup for the Toon Army, yet the three years that Duff would spend at St. James Park would not be the best of his career. Despite some impressive performances for the Magpies, Duff would unfortunately score the own goal that would send Newcastle down, meaning that the winger had gone from the heights of winning the title and playing in the Champions League to relegation in the space of a few years.
Duff however only featured for Newcastle in one game in the Championship before sealing a deal to Premier League side Fulham, reuniting him with his former manager at Blackburn Roy Hodgson. Duff has rejuvenated his career and appears to have finally found a home at Craven Cottage. Hodgson’s style of play suits Duff and he has become a regular in a Fulham side that are experiencing some of their best form in years.
By looking at the Irishman’s goal scoring record it becomes evident that the winger has been reborn in west London. Duff managed five league goals in his 69 appearances for Newcastle yet has already matched that tally with Fulham from just 18 games. It is however, not just his goal scoring record that has improved but in general his all round play. Duff looks lively and exciting once again. Moments of brilliance are arriving at more regular intervals and the winger is once again enjoying playing in Europe for the Cottagers, maybe almost as much as the Fulham fans themselves.
Duff hasn’t let the disappointment of the Republic of Ireland’s dramatic World Cup exit affect his form as despite the heartbreak of the extra time defeat to France, Duff has still been in good form in the Premier League. He must take some of the credit for Bobby Zamora’s recent surge of form as the winger has often turned provider for the former West Ham man. Duff’s natural width and crossing ability has provided Fulham with another dimension to their play and Roy Hodgson has seen his sides form drastically improve after a slow start to the campaign.
It is fair to say that although neither party are really to blame, for some reason Damien Duff and Newcastle United didn’t really work out. However, just as Duff’s career threatened to disappear before him, Roy Hodgson offered the winger another chance and the Irishman has prospered from the opportunity. Duff has returned to west London and has regained some of the form that convinced Chelsea to splash the cash for him in the first place. He appears to have found a home at Craven Cottage and at 30 years of age, is likely to remain there for a few years to come.
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