Duff followed heart to sign for Newcastle

July 24, 2006

Damien Duff has revealed his heart told him to join Newcastle from Chelsea despite interest from Liverpool and Tottenham.

The Republic of Ireland winger has signed for the Magpies for a bargain £5million after a successful spell at Chelsea in which he collected two Premiership winners' medals.

Duff received a hero's welcome at St James' Park today and admitted the passion for football on Tyneside played a part in his decision.

'It feels special,' he told a press conference televised by Sky Sports News.

'Playing here with Chelsea and Blackburn it was an unbelievable place to come as an away player, it's probably the most passionate place in England to play. That is one of the many factors why I wanted to come here.

'It took a couple of days (to make the decision). I spoke to the gaffer and the lads here like Scott Parker, Steve Carr and Shay Given but at the end I listened to my heart.

'Maybe there are a lot of Liverpool supporters in Ireland saying `why didn't you sign for us' but my heart told me to come to Newcastle United.'

Duff warned Newcastle supporters it would take time for manager Glenn Roeder to achieve success as he builds his side.

Duff said: 'I hope we can bring success. Obviously we're not kidding ourselves, it's a massive job ahead of us and we know we're not going to be challenging for the Premier League this year. But I'm here for five years and hope to do great things.'

Chairman Freddy Shepherd thanked Chelsea for their cooperation in the transfer. and said: 'Chelsea are happy with the deal, we are happy so everybody is happy.

'I would like to thank Chelsea personally for the way the manager, board and Peter Kenyon have handled this, they have been superb.'

Glenn Roeder was understandably delighted with his first acquisition since taking over as Magpies manager.

'I couldn't wish to make a better first signing than to bring Damien Duff here. I feel fortunate to be working with a player of his quality.

'The chairman has done the spade work, the hard work, and has got to take a lot of credit for that. We've landed one of the best, if not the best, wide players in the Premiership.

'It will be the first signing and now we're working towards other players on our list.

'We're keeping the names close to our chests no matter how much speculation is written every day which is understandable, we know who's on the list but we'll go for them one at a time and be patient.'

Duff believes it will be a thrilling experience to run out as a home player at St James' Park.

'I've played here before. I know what the fans are like,' he said. 'They're special and they gave me a great welcome outside. It will be totally different playing in black and white than playing as an away player, so I can't wait for that.'

Duff hopes to be involved in Saturday's home friendly against PSV Eindhoven, by which stage Roeder may be closer to adding more few faces to the Newcastle squad.

The Irish winger is convinced he has made a wise career choice, even though he is leaving behind an established European force.

'We've got a great manager here, a great chairman, that's why I've come ... to play football, and win things as well.'

Duff knows several of the Newcastle squad well already, having 'got on great' with Scott Parker when the pair were team-mates at Chelsea and Shay Given and Stephen Carr among his closest comrades in the Republic squad.

But he stressed: 'I'm here to play football, not to make friends. I'll be my own man, play my own game, and hopefully get off to a good start on Saturday and have a good five years plus at Newcastle.'

Roeder promised to step up the search for new players, saying: 'We'll keep working away, trying to make inroads into one or two targets.

'It's a question of being patient. I know the fans are looking in the papers to see who we might have signed. I think it's best to keep things close to our chest.'

He was delighted with Duff's response to Newcastle's initial approach, explaining: 'When I spoke to him a few nights back, first of all his enthusiasm was leaping up and down the telephone. It's terrific talking to someone who wants to play football as much as he does.

'I have got a great character and a great player.'