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Ex-Northern Ireland star Michael Duff hangs up boots and takes over Burnley starlets

By John Flack

Burnley and former Northern Ireland defender Michael Duff last night announced his retirement at the age of 38.

But he won't be leaving Turf Moor as he will be taking on a new coaching role at the club next season after completing his Uefa Pro Licence qualification in Belfast. Duff will be in charge of the Lancashire club's Under-18s after talks with Clarets manager Sean Dyche.

The Belfast-born player, who grew up in Yorkshire, revealed the news to 600 fans at an end-of-season awards bash hosted by the newly-promoted Premiership club last night.

Duff made more than 350 appearances for Burnley since joining from Cheltenham Town for £30,000 12 years ago but lost his place in the side this season after a Boxing Day defeat to Hull City.

However, he made his swansong on Saturday with a five minute cameo appearance as a second-half substitute in the 3-0 win over Charlton Athletic at the Valley which clinched the Championship title.

Duff thought his career was over when he was told he would have to quit football after sustaining multiple ligament, hamstring and cruciate damage during a Coca Cola Cup game with Crystal Palace in 2008.

But he made a full recovery and played in Burnley's last two Premier League campaigns in 2009-10 and 2014-15. Dyche paid Duff a glowing tribute, saying: "When I got here, people were saying, 'I'm not sure he's got much left in him'.

"But he's certainly done all right, to say the least, since I've been here and he has been a fantastic servant for the club.

"He is one of the dying breed of players who has become part of the fabric of the club after being brought here for peanuts and what he's done."

Duff played 24 times for Northern Ireland, his last cap coming in a 6-0 friendly defeat by the Netherlands in 2012.

He played in Michael O'Neill's first game in charge - a 3-0 loss to Norway in Belfast - and featured in two of his country's most memorable victories, the 1-0 win over England in 2005 and the 3-2 triumph over Spain a year later.

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