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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Duff has 'nothing to prove' to Chelsea

Damien Duff is adamant he has nothing to prove to anyone but himself after quitting Premiership champions Chelsea.

Close friend and now Newcastle team-mate Shay Given had yesterday stated Duff would be 'hungry to prove a few people wrong at Chelsea'.

But in completing a cut-price £5million move to United, and signing a five-year contract, Duff is just eager to play football regularly rather than endure bench life under Jose Mourinho.

In his three seasons at Stamford Bridge following a £17million move from Blackburn, Duff started just 63 of Chelsea's 114 Premiership matches.

Despite picking up two Premiership winner's medals, the frustration was as much as Duff could bear, resulting in him asking Mourinho and chief executive Peter Kenyon for a move.

Duff readily concedes he 'had to go,' but is not looking back.

'I had a great three years at Chelsea which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I'd like to think they enjoyed me as well,' said Duff.

'But I just want to get back playing. I just want to play week in and week out because when I do that I am at my best.

'I'm not kidding anyone because I know I struggled in the second half of last season, so I guess I've something to prove to myself, but not to Chelsea. I'm the only one.'

Magpies boss Glenn Roeder was bowled over by Duff's passion to move to the north-east, spurning other advances from Tottenham and Liverpool.

'When I spoke to him a few nights ago his enthusiasm jumped down the telephone at me,' recalled Roeder.

'It was terrific talking to somebody who wants to play football as much as he does.

'I really felt what he was saying was from his heart and truthful. He sounded excited about joining us.

'That is important in signing players, that you really believe they want to come, and that's the feeling I got with Damien.'

Like Duff, Roeder also feels the Republic of Ireland international has no need to show Mourinho just what he might be missing.

'His quality is there for all to see, as we have seen over a number of years,' added Roeder, who hails Duff as 'one of the finest wide players in the British game.'

'So he has no point to prove to anybody, and nothing to prove to Jose Mourinho at all.

'The refreshing thing is he has come to play football every week, and that is something not guaranteed for any player at Chelsea with maybe the exception of John Terry and Frank Lampard.

'A lot of the other players are rotated and don't play full seasons, and that's what Damien wants, to play every game he is fit for and we can give him that opportunity here.'

Before he has even kicked a ball for Newcastle, Duff is already being compared to another famous Magpies left-winger in Chris Waddle.

While the compliment is flattering, Duff is uncomfortable with the tag, adding: 'I don't need to be compared to greats like that. I want to be my own man and play my own game.

'Hopefully I can become a hero like him, and I'm not saying I left Chelsea just to get worshipped.

'All I want to do is play football and be happy inside because I've not been happy for a while. I hope this is a place I can be happy.'