Shane Duffy follows his dream

Shane Duffy has insisted that it was always his dream to play for the Republic of Ireland after turning his back on Northern Ireland this week.

The Everton centre-half was named in Northern Ireland's squad on Monday for next week's friendly international against Albania, but instead opted to withdraw his name and declare for the Republic.

Although Duffy represented Northern Ireland at U-16, U-17, U-19 and B level, Fifa's rules state he was not tied as he had not been competitively capped at senior level. Consequently, he was able to switch his allegiance to the Republic, as his father Brian is from Ard O'Donnell in Letterkenny.

From Derry's Glendale Park, the now 18-year-old Duffy is the grandson of Martha Duffy and the late Mickey, who ran a mechanic's business in Gortlee. Shane's mother Siobhan, a Derry native, has Raphoe and Carndonagh connections.

"Liam Brady phoned me a few weeks ago and spoke to me about my international future," the teenager said this week. "We had a chat. I thought about it and spoke to a few people before making my decision. It's crazy to think that someone like Liam Brady would phone me to speak to me and obviously it means a lot to me. I can't wait to get involved now because it is a dream to play for the Republic of Ireland."

"Everyone in my family is Irish and so am I. We are just living in Northern Ireland. I have always wanted to play for the Republic. I grew up supporting Ireland and so did everybody around me."

Duffy caught the eye of Everton manager David Moyes in the Victory Shield U-16 meeting of Northern Ireland and England Schoolboys in 2007, which finished in a 2-2 draw. However, having attended a three-day trial with the Republic of Ireland before that encounter, Duffy honoured a promise to travel to Liechtenstein with Northern Ireland's U-17s.

He was also part of the 18-man Northern Ireland senior squad in a 3-0 friendly loss against Italy in Pisa last June, falling foul to the fact that both associations had agreed on a maximum of six substitutes beforehand.

"Shane has represented Northern Ireland at every age group right up until seniors," said an unhappy Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington on Monday.

"He went to Italy with the squad last year and was the only one to miss out on a cap. Sadly we received a letter from Everton on behalf of Shane Duffy stating that he no longer wants to represent Northern Ireland; he wants to represent the Republic.

"From my point of view it is disappointing because Shane is going to be a very, very, very good player and he is going to be a big loss to us. As I put him in the squad word came back that he doesn't want to represent Northern Ireland. He has clearly stated that he has made his decision with his family that he wants to represent the Republic of Ireland."


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