Duff wanted to join Manchester United, not Chelsea

Matt Stead

Damien Duff says he was a “nervous wreck” when he almost joined Manchester United over a decade ago.

Duff was wanted by United, Liverpool and Chelsea in 2003, eventually leaving Blackburn in a £17million move to Stamford Bridge.

The winger won four trophies at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles, but actually favoured a move to United initially.

“I met [Alex Ferguson] a long time ago. I was just a nervous wreck, they were my club,” he told the Second Captains podcast. “Obviously before I was at Chelsea I was at Blackburn and I wanted to go there but it didn’t materialise.

“Back then I think my fee was £15m and I ended up going for £17m; it’s a lot of money and it didn’t quite happen. I nearly went to Liverpool, which didn’t quite happen. Everything happens for a reason.

“You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in boardrooms with money and agents and all, so I never really found out, I just said I want to go, but it didn’t materialise. I stayed at Blackburn for another year.

“It’s only kind of years later, I meet Roy [Keane] when he joined back up with the Irish team and he was like ‘why didn’t you come?’

“I said I wanted to come and then you realise right, well something has gone missing somewhere along the line, but I’m not one to sit at home mulling over things.”

Former United chief executive David Gill once said of a move for Duff: “We discussed it and were interested. We asked for the value of the player and we knew his personal terms, we had discussions with his agent.

“The manager assesses what the player would be worth against other players and the assessment of the manager was that Duff was not worth that money. He felt he had sufficient cover.”