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

I

think Finnegans Wake would have been a better reference point than Ulysses. Far more rambling and incomprehensible.

debra2927
Football People On TV: Garth Crooks

I

f I recall correctly, Degsy predicted a 100/1 shot correctly the week after his 150/1 Blackpool 4 - 3 Bolton call. I stuck a fiver on it as an idle bet. Paid for a stag do in Munich. Heady days...

baldini
Backing Hull To Beat United 2-1...

R

odgers prefers Joe Allen to Lucas? If this is true then I'm setting aside a fortnight to finally learn the rules of American Football and I'll give up on real football.

godzilla
The Jammy Gossip

Footer 365

Carlton Cole doesn't know if he will stay at West Ham next season

West Ham striker Carlton Cole revealed he still does not know where his future lies beyond this season.

Louis van Gaal believes David De Gea will stay at Manchester United

Louis van Gaal believes David De Gea will stay at Manchester United despite speculation linking him with Real Madrid.

Roy Hodgson wants Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard on England coaching staff

Roy Hodgson wants Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard on the England coaching team when they retire from playing.

Mail Box

Only One Real Manager Of The Year

Winning the Premier League with the best squad in the Premier League is only par; Ronald Koeman did a whole lot better. Plus, the last word on Raheem and...

Don't Slate Sterling For Ambition...

Raheem Sterling deserves credit for his desire to quit Liverpool, according to one mailboxer. Also: why football should not be compared to business and Degsy's latest spot of bother...

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