Some professional athletes talk a big game. Others put their money where their mouth is.

While we go about our normal lives, worrying about paying the bills, what we are going to have for dinner and what’s on TV later, there are currently over 330 Irish soldiers serving in the Lebanon as part of the strong UN remit in that country, keeping the peace in a time of great stress for the region. It is an incredibly dangerous task, and tragically, 47 Irish soldiers have died defending the peace in South Lebanon. All the while the fear remains that the problems in neighbouring Syria could explode across the border. It is a tense time to be a UN peace keeper based in the region.

This brings us to Damien Duff, or ‘The Duffer’

The veteran Irish soccer star could have stayed at home, licking his wounds after the disastrous Irish European Championships campaign. He could have zipped off somewhere hot and sunny and hit the golf links, or collapsed by the pool. Instead, The Duffer chose to make a difficult, dangerous trip to Beirut, and subsequently on to the Lebanon. He has gone to help lift the spirits of the Irish force there, and will no doubt offer them stories from his Irish team and Premiership exploits in his colourful, successful career. Duff also paid his respects the memory of the 47 Irish men who died in the name of peace.

It is a fantastic, unselfish gesture from a clearly level headed and thoughtful man. The 33 year old Irish star will spend three days with the Battalion, and apart from meeting and spending time with the troops, he is also scheduled to visit a local orphanage.

Professional sports can be a depressing entity at time. Having to listen to the likes of morons like Dwight Howard procrastinate as to what team he wants to pay him millions of dollars to play basketball next season, while holding the NBA loving city of Orlando to hostage, is very unappealing. The same goes for Carlos Lee, the bloated Houston Astros slugger with his similarly bloated $100 million contract. We really need to read endless stories about what team he refuses to be traded to, seriously?

Modern professional sports can be an ugly creature. Thankfully there are still characters as strong and honourable as Damien Duff. His heart warming decision to visit his countrymen in the Lebanon is an example to us all.

It also makes your heart burst with pride to be Irish.

Hopefully Duff and the boys in green enjoy his visit to the utmost.

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