Duff: Chelsea exit left me ‘in pieces’; denies Mourinho fall out

Matt Stead

Damien Duff admits he regrets leaving Chelsea but has rubbished claims he fell out with Jose Mourinho.

Former Republic of Ireland winger Duff was a key part of Mourinho’s Chelsea side which won consecutive Premier League titles but left for Newcastle in the summer of 2006 after falling out of favour following a number of injuries.

Speaking to Chelsea’s official website, Duff said: “Looking back now, did I make the wrong decision in leaving? Yes.”

“I remember speaking to the club about a new contract; I never had a falling out with Jose. I still loved it there but I just wanted to go and play football week in, week out.

“I made my decision, probably a rash decision, but it’s something I stand by. I wish I’d stayed, I should have stayed. Chelsea is the only club where I was in pieces when I was leaving.”

Duff was one of Roman Abramovich’s first signings at Chelsea, joining in a £17million move from Blackburn under Claudio Ranieri, but became one of the most effective attackers in the Premier League under Mourinho.

“For the first couple of [Mourinho’s] squads, Man United at home and Palace away, I wasn’t even on the bench,” he said.

“He wasn’t convinced I’d got over my shoulder injury, but that’s how I like to be dealt with. I don’t like an arm around the shoulder, I like a kick up the behind.

“It was a wake-up call that he wanted more from me, which is what I gave him. I got in the team and pretty much stayed in it for the rest of the season, injuries permitting.”

The 37-year-old was part of a fearsome front three alongside Didier Drogba and Arjen Robben, and Duff lauded his fellow winger.

“It was an eye opener to see how good Robbie was,” he said.

“You could see stuff in training but I remember him coming on that day for half-an-hour and he was unbelievable. You’d have to say he brought us to another level.”