Damien Duff wants to put first Euro win over Italy ahead of personal glory in Poznan
Winger to captain country as he becomes an Irish centurion
Damien Duff will captain his country when he wins his 100th cap for Ireland in the Euro 2012 clash against Italy in Poznan on Monday night.
Duff was named captain by manager Giovanni Trapattoni after Robbie Keane insisted his close friend lead the team out for the final European Championship fixture.
Ireland are playing for nothing but pride against the Italians after heavy defeats at the hands of Croatia and Spain in Poland so far.
Duff, who rarely does interviews, told reporters on Sunday night that he would gladly swap the captaincy for three points after a desperately disappointing championship for his team.
“The win would mean more to me than any personal honor against Italy,” said Duff.
“As the manager said himself, this game is all about restoring pride in the Irish team and giving the fans something to be proud of.
“We haven’t performed for whatever reason at this championship and that’s something we have to correct against Italy.
“I just want to restore a bit of pride in the shirt. I don’t think we will even need a team talk to be fair.”
Duff will enjoy the moment when he leads Ireland out in Poznan on Monday night but he won’t dwell on it.
He added: “I was never one to make a big thing out of anything in life.
“It’s something I will look back on maybe next week or next year.
“I know it’s a feat but at the moment I just want to get a good performance and a good result.
“It’s obviously an awfully proud moment. I know how much it means to myself, my family and what have you.
“But I’m trying not to make a big deal of it. I would take three points ahead of 100 caps at the minute.”
Now 33, the Fulham winger could also be playing his last match for Ireland.
Duff said: “I have made my mind up on what I’m going to do.
“But now is probably not the right time to let anyone else know.”
Regular skipper Robbie Keane paid tribute to Duff ahead of the Italian game.
“Duffer has been absolutely a massive player since he made his debut,” said Keane.
“We both made our debut in the same game against the Czech Republic in 1998 and we’ve been through a hell of a lot together since then.
“We all know that he’s a top-class player. He has the respect of every other player around the dressing room. You know that from how people speak about him.
“Everyone talks so highly of him. When you’re around him, he’s great company but it’s not only that. He’s been a top player as well a very good friend since we made our debut.
“It’s only right to do this gesture and make him captain because he has been an absolute credit to his country and he will go down as one of the best players we’ve ever produced.”
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