Captain Duffer proud to reach Irish century
IT'S been a long road. The Duffer can still smile and make us all melt even after two awful performances. He reaches a big fat 100 caps and will wear the captain's armband against Italy tonight.
It means as much as the first -- which is everything and nothing. To understand Damien Duff is to know that he lives to play football and probably wouldn't mind too much if he never did anything else.
Sure he wants to win and sure, he's not happy when he doesn't but he gets over defeats quickly and moves on, as most of us cannot.
"I'm never one to make a big thing out of anything in life, maybe next week or next year I'll think about 100 caps but now, I want to get a good performance and a good result."
"It's a proud moment but I would put three points ahead of 100 caps at the minute. I know what it means to myself and my family, but I just want to get on with the game and do the business. I remember the lows rather than the highs. To get to the World Cup, my debut and the first goal, which took a while, are the good memories."
"The lows would include the France game and of course the last two results. We weren't good enough when it came to the crunch and we've had two poor results."
And that was it. A few complimentary words from Robbie Keane and he was off, away from the glare of publicity he hates so much and back into the rhythm of the squad where he feels most comfortable.
Duff seemed to hint that his international career was over but then said that, like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, there was no reason why he shouldn't be able to carry on for a few more years.
Whether he meant as a club or international player was hard to figure out but by the time the dust settles in Poznan tonight, we'll know for sure. Whether he stays or goes, it has been a privilege to watch him over all these years. The great pity is that he didn't have something more to celebrate in Euro 2012 and if he had, maybe we might have got another Youtube moment to match his wonderful bow to the faithful in Japan after he scored against Saudi Arabia and helped Ireland into the Round of 16.
One of Ireland's true greats and if he does retire this evening, we'll all be the poorer for it.