DAMIEN Duff has revealed his relief at leaving behind the chaos of St James’s Park, admitting the turmoil at Newcastle United meant he was no longer enjoying his football.
Duff sealed a £4m switch to Fulham on Tuesday to become the tenth player to depart Newcastle since the club’s relegation was confirmed at Villa Park in May.
And while the Ireland winger said that going down was a “heartbreaking” moment for him, it is clear that all was not well with Duff even before the club’s demise was confirmed.
Duff was one of several players to pledge his future to Newcastle in the wake of relegation but, with a long contract on big wages, it was always likely that he would depart. And when the club accepted a bid from Roy Hodgson’s Fulham he said it was a “no-brainer” to return to the capital.
“It was heartbreaking going down and the players didn’t know what was going on up there,” he said.
“In fairness it’s pulled the lads closer together and you can see that from the results of the first couple of games of the season.
“It was definitely the hardest period of my career. It didn’t work out, I wasn’t enjoying my football and I’ve had to move on.
“I thought it was a great move at the time and a lot of people agreed but it didn’t happen for me. That was the same for a lot of players. I played for four managers last season. That’s not a good base for any team to work well.
“But that’s no excuse – we went down and deserved to. There’s a lot of stability at Fulham, not just with the manager but in the team as well.
“It’s going to be tough to break into the side but as soon as I heard Fulham were interested it was a no-brainer to come here.”
In Fulham, Duff has joined a club with much more stability than Newcastle and a manager who has impressed since returning to the top flight.
“Roy was the first manager I had a full season in the Premiership with so I have very fond memories of him,” said Duff.
“We got on like a house on fire so I know what he’s all about and I’m looking forward to working with him.
“He’s a top-notch coach. I don’t know how close he ever was to becoming England manager but it’s always shocked me he’s never had a mention.”