Damien Duff has proclaimed his love for Man United, and revealed he once came close to joining the club under Alex Ferguson, writes Stephen Barry.
Duff was a United supporter from childhood and met Alex Ferguson about a potential move in 2002, the same year as the World Cup.
However, United never matched the Irishman’s £17million release clause and, a year later, he transferred to Chelsea, where he won two Premier League titles in three years.
“Yeah, (I met Alex Ferguson) a long time ago. I was just a nervous wreck. They were my club,” he told Richie Sadlier on Second Captains’ Players Chair.
“Obviously before I went to Chelsea, I was still at Blackburn and I wanted to go there but it just didn't materialise. Back then my fee was £15m and I ended up going for £17m.
“It's a lot of money and it didn't quite happen. (I) nearly went to Liverpool, didn't quite happen. Everything happens for a reason. I’ve no qualms about it.
“You don't know what goes on behind the scenes in boardrooms, (with) money and agents and all, so I never really found out. I just said I want to go, but it didn't materialise. I stayed at Blackburn. It wasn’t for another year until I left.”
Duff isn’t one to think ‘what if?’, but a meeting with Roy Keane did raise the question ‘why didn’t you come?’.
“It's only years later, meeting Roy when he joined back up with the Irish team and he was like ‘Why didn't you come?’. I said ‘I wanted to come’ and then you realise right, well something has gone missing somewhere along the line.
“I'm not one to sit at home mulling over things or go what if or reminisce really.
“I don't know (the reasons), honest to God, I’ll tell you how it is. I never did find out. You move on.”
Earlier this month, a doctor advised Duff not to continue playing football and he considered Michael Carrick’s testimonial his retirement.
Duff played 37 minutes with an All-Stars XI that also featured Shay Given and Robbie Keane, who scored in the 2-2 draw.
“I always supported who I played for, so I supported Blackburn, supported Chelsea, but I’ve only realised now I retried, my God, I love Manchester United.
“Driving there with my kids last week, the only reason I played in it (Carrick’s testimonial) was because my kids never really saw me play in a game in a big stadium. I brought them over to see the Man United sign, Old Trafford, that’s ingrained in me.
“I used to watch my Man United videos when I was four or five, and it just all came flooding back. It was Carrick’s testimonial but it felt like it was my day.”