THE SCOTTISH SUN 🔵 Ex-Celtic coach looks unrecognisable four years after leaving Parkhead job – Shango Media
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THE SCOTTISH SUN 🔵 Ex-Celtic coach looks unrecognisable four years after leaving Parkhead job

HE called his 16 months on the coaching staff at Celtic his ‘dream job’.

And hat’s quite an accolade when you’re talking about a man with a stellar playing career behind him which saw him win 100 caps for his country and pick up two Premier League titles.

Shelbourne manager Damien Duff celebrates after gaining a point vs Derry

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Shelbourne manager Damien Duff celebrates after gaining a point vs DerryCredit: Sportsfile
Damien Duff (right) with John Kennedy and Neil Lennon

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Damien Duff (right) with John Kennedy and Neil Lennon
Damien Duff during a Newcastle United training session

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Damien Duff during a Newcastle United training session

But now Damien Duff is marking himself out as potentially a future Hoops manager of the future with the sterling work at Shelbourne which has seen them rack up an EIGHT point lead over the rest just eight matches into the League of Ireland season.

These days Duff sports a shaggy beard redolent of a Game of Thrones character or rugby prop forward rather than the blonde locks of his heyday as a flying winner at Blackburn, Chelsea and Newcastle.

That’s the look he had when he claimed back-to-back English top flight titles under Jose Mourinho prior to moving to Newcastle then Fulham.

At international level he graced the 2002 World Cup and the 2012 European Championships, bowing out on 100 caps.

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He’s got a short-lived stint at Stephen Kenny’s assistant as Ireland boss under his belt as a boss too, in addition to that period on Neil Lennon’s backroom team which saw him help deliver the Treble Treble before departing ahead of the club’s ill-fated bid for ten in a row.

But right now he’s casting all before him with Shelbourne, who have yet to lose a league match this season.

They already lead nearest challengers Sligo Rovers and Derry City by a whopping eight points – with former Celtic (and Rangers) kid Liam Burt in their ranks.

That’s after guiding them to seventh and fourth place finishes the last two seasons as they re-establish themselves in the top flight.

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At the time of leaving Celtic, with Gavin Strachan replacing him in the Hoops set-up, he said: “The role I had at Celtic was my dream job.

« I’m absolutely gutted, devastated to be leaving, especially at this time, when we’re going for 10.

« It was absolutely a family decision. There is no job in the world that would have taken me away from the role I was in.

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« I’d love to be a brilliant coach one day, but I think it’s more important at the minute that I’m just a brilliant dad, I guess.

“For the first while I was away, my kids were like, ‘Daddy, Daddy, stay for nine and 10’, but as time went by, it was more, ‘Daddy, Daddy, when are you coming home?’ Celtic is one big family, but my family is here as well.

« It was the best year-and-a-half of my sporting life, and I include my football career in that. It was an absolute dream with amazing people. I’m gutted, but my kids need me, which is always the most important thing to any dad.”

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