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new gaffer Damien Duff reveals ‘soul searching’ that led him to take Shelbourne job

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Newly-appointed Shelbourne manager Damien Duff is pictured at the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport in Clonshaugh, Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Newly-appointed Shelbourne manager Damien Duff is pictured at the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport in Clonshaugh, Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Newly-appointed Shelbourne manager Damien Duff is pictured at the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport in Clonshaugh, Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Damien Duff has opened up on the “soul searching” that led to his decision to accept the role as manager of Shelbourne after initially turning it down.

The former Ireland international has signed a two-year deal with Shels, stepping up from his position as Under-17 manager, but he confirmed today that he turned the job down on Friday before changing his mind over the weekend.

Duff (42) admits to some apprehension about taking the position, yet he stressed that after encouraging young players under his watch to be brave and show courage, he had to follow that advice in taking the gig.

The two-time Premier League winner tackled the suggestion that he struggles to commit to roles, asserting that he left his previous three jobs with Shamrock Rovers, Celtic and Ireland for the right reasons.

He said he had two thoughts in mind when he said no initially before weekend talks with chairman Andrew Doyle, Sporting and Technical Director Alan Caffrey and CEO Dave O'Connor.

"One - I like my life, to go away with the kids and have my own time and secondly, it's totally out of the comfort zone stuff," said Duff.

"Am I scared? Absolutely. Do I feel uncomfortable? Absolutely. But I've been preaching to kids since day one about showing personality and courage which they can lack at times.

"For me to say no on Friday, I was lacking courage and personality. The board asked me to reconsider and I did and that was soul searching."

Duff was reluctant to get drawn into discussion about why he left his role on Stephen Kenny's Ireland staff in January, only stating that he wouldn't have forgiven himself if he stayed.

And he was keen to tackle any suggestion he had commitment issues.

"Yes, I am incredibly restless, incredibly impatient but you can ask anyone what I've worked with,” he said.

"I don't know how you prove longevity or commitment to a club. I was with Shamrock Rovers as a player. I dedicated my life to it for 18 months to kids with Shamrock Rovers. I got stick for training at 6am in the morning and bringing them back out at 6pm at night. I'd like to think they were the best days of those kids’ careers.

"I went to Celtic, I had an amazing time there, if I go back there tomorrow, I'd be welcomed back with open arms. When your wife and kids are back home and your son and daughter are saying Daddy, we want you home (he made the decision to leave).

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"I went to the Irish coaching gig and, again, as I touched on. I would have been unhappy with myself if I'd stayed. I'd like to think everyone in this room would have left the gig when I did," continued Duff, who said he wouldn't get into that subject today.

"I'm incredibly dedicated, I dedicate my life to the players. I'm still in touch with Shamrock Rovers U15 players, Celtic players, I tell my Shelbourne players I'm there on and off the pitch for them until I die.

"I knew I would be asked (about commitment), I think it needs to be addressed. When I'm with players, they get the whole of Damien Duff.

"I know it's a difficult gig, I know it's a team coming up with not one of the biggest budgets. I don't like losing games and don't want to fail, I know a lot of the managers when they do fail in their first gig, they never get another managers' role again but that's stuff I am fine with. I'll happily be a barista, I'm halfway through my course.

"It's probably too late to tell them now but I'd do this for free."

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