Belfast Telegraph

Duffy would have stayed if he had played against Italy

By Stuart McKinley

Shane Duffy’s dramatic international U-turn would not have occurred if he’d been handed a senior cap by Northern Ireland, according to the player’s father.

The 18-year-old turned down a call-up for next week’s friendly in Albania after deciding to switch his allegiance to the Republic of Ireland - the country of his father Brian’s birth.

Brian travelled to Italy with Northern Ireland last June when Shane was included in a senior squad for the first time, but because of the rule that permits only six substitutes in friendly internationals he was the only player in the panel not to play that night.

And that has cost Nigel Worthington the services of the highly rated Everton defender — although he had turned the teenager around just a couple of months ago.

“I would say that if Shane had played against Italy there would have been no turning back,” Brian Duffy told the Belfast Telegraph.

“I went to that game and I met some great people, some whom I have kept in touch with.

“If Shane had played that would have been him declaring for Northern Ireland and I would have been giving him a big cheer.

“We’d have been 100 per cent behind him as a family as well.

“I am from Letterkenny, I have always been a Republic of Ireland fan, but I’ve left the decision to Shane and that’s why I feel okay about the decision that he has made, because he has made it without any influence from me or anyone else.”

Worthington revealed Duffy’s change of heart when he announced his squad for the Albania game on Monday in Belfast. Duffy’s name remained on the list, much to the surprise of the youngster’s father.

“I saw the squad on Sky Sports on Monday and Shane’s name was there, which I didn’t understand because we knew three weeks ago that he’d made his decision,” said Brian.

“We decided to say nothing and then it came out on Monday when Nigel Worthington put out the squad with Shane in it.

“Nigel Worthington did call Shane and said that he wanted to see him in the defence with Jonny Evans in Albania and that would have been great, but Shane has made his decision.

“It had been going on for a few months and Shane decided to declare for the Republic of Ireland three months ago.

“He’d been told that he needed to send an email to the FAI in Dublin and he did that, but Nigel Worthington spoke to him and talked him around again.

“Shane has changed his mind again now and has sacrificed captaining the Northern Ireland under-19 team later this season.”

Duffy was fast-tracked by Worthington, graduating with pace from the Schoolboy international side to the Under-21s — who he captained despite still being eligible for the Under-19s.

And his father will treasure the mementos Shane gathered in what has turned out to be a short Northern Ireland career.

“I have Shane’s first Northern Ireland shirt on the wall and all his caps as well,” he said.

“They will never come down because I am proud of what he achieved and they are part of what Shane has done in football.”

Belfast Telegraph

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