Duke tale offers non-league hope

Bradford keeper Matt Duke believes his presence in the Capital One Cup final offers hope for non-league players everywhere.

Last Updated: 24/02/13 at 09:49

Matt Duke: Has gone from non-league to Wembley

Matt Duke: Has gone from non-league to Wembley

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

At 22, Duke was still playing Sunday league football, in addition to turning out for Matlock in the UniBond League Division One.

A trial at Sheffield United turned into the prelude for a career largely spent in the lower leagues, apart from one part of a seven-year stint with Hull when Duke found himself as the first-choice Premier League keeper.

But it is only this season that Duke has really come to prominence.

His penalty shoot-out heroics against Wigan and Arsenal on Bradford's run to the semi-finals, and then two outstanding displays in an amazing triumph over Aston Villa to reach Wembley have shoved Duke to centre stage.

Which just shows in an era where the easy option, even below Premier League level, is to look overseas, there is plenty of talent further down England's extended pyramid system.

"I was playing for Matlock and Sunday football as well, but in that summer I got a trial at Sheffield United and it has gone from there," said Duke.

"It just shows there are a lot of players out there who can still do it.

"I was fortunate enough to get the break and I have been prepared to put the hard work in to improve myself."

Duke's determination to succeed on the pitch was matched by his bravery off it in 2008 when the Sheffield-born stopper discovered he required surgery to remove a testicular tumour.

Although he was only out of action for three months, the cancer scare provoked a change in mindset, which may come in quite handy on the biggest weekend of his career.

"It gives you a bit of perspective," he said.

"When you are having a bad day, you don't let things worry you too much.

"It is about ensuring your lows are not too low and your highs are not too high. As long as you have your health and your family and your kids are healthy, that is the main thing."

And that underlines why Duke has not allowed himself to get carried away by all the plaudits that have been coming his way in recent weeks.

"Football has a nasty habit of kicking you in the teeth," he said.

"The moment you walk onto the pitch thinking you are the hero, things will turn completely the other way.

"It is important to enjoy the feelings but you can't let it go to your head because you might have a big mistake in you.

"We lost 2-1 at Wimbledon last Saturday. If that doesn't bring you back down to earth nothing will."

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

O

ne of the conclusions from this list is that Man City should never buy a striker in January - good luck Wilfried Bony....

Savinator
F365's Top Ten Worst January Panic Buys

I

was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Fly1ngh1gh
Cup defeat shames Mourinho

G

reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

cheshire-gooner
16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

Footer 365

Copa del Rey: Luis Enrqique says Neymar had to be substituted against Atletico Madrid to prevent injury

Luis Enrique says he had to substitute Neymar to prevent him from being injured in an ugly cup tie with Atletico.

Capital One Cup: Nigel Clough praises battling Sheffield United after Tottenham reach final

Nigel Clough was left to ponder what might have been after Spurs dashed Sheffield United's Capital One Cup final dreams.

Capital One Cup: FA charges Chelsea striker Diego Costa over 'stamp' on Liverpool's Emre Can

The FA have charged Chelsea striker Diego Costa with violent conduct over his clash with Liverpool's Emre Can on Tuesday.

Mail Box

Erm... Balotelli To QPR..?

It's an afternoon Mailbox that offers the reaction to the reaction, with a defence for Diego Costa offered, and Balotelli mooted to move to QPR. Plus a silly idea about the Mails...

'Diego Costa Is A Thug.' Sore Losers..?

There is plenty of fallout from Diego Costa's stamps of authority on Tuesday's League Cup semi-final. Plus Blatter, Rodgers' substitutions and stretching the transfer truth...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company