SHANE Duffy is relishing the chance to establish himself as a first team regular after completing a permanent move to Championship club, Blackburn Rovers on Transfer Deadline Day.
The former Everton centre-half signed a three year deal for an undisclosed fee, understood to be in the region of £1.5 million yesterday morning after a successful medical at Ewood Park.
And while the 22 year-old Galliagh lad is excited about making a fresh start, he leaves Goodison Park with a heavy heart having spent six years at the Premiership club.
The Merseyside outfit are understood to have been reluctant to let Duffy leave, however, the Republic of Ireland international felt the time was right to move on and seek regular first team football given his limited chances under Roberto Martinez last season.
And the prospect of a permanent move to a Championship club was appealing to Duffy following loan moves at Burnley, Scunthorpe and Yeovil in recent years.
Duffy will wear the number 22 shirt at Blackburn and he’s anxious to hit the ground running.
“I wouldn’t say I turned down a deal to stay at Everton, I just had to make a decision and a permanent move to Blackburn was better for me because I want to play (regular) football,” he revealed.
“The main thing at my age is to be playing week in, week out. It was a big decision to make and hopefully I’ve made the right one.
“It’ll be hard leaving Everton because I’ve been there since I was 16 years-old and they made me the player I am now. It’s been a tough decision but hopefully it will work out for the best.
“I suppose the obvious highlights were the AEK Athens game (Europa League) when I made my debut and my making my Premier League debut, but every time I played was brilliant so I have a lot of good memories from my time there.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m delighted to get the chance to, hopefully play first team football on a regular basis now,” he added.
“So I’m looking forward to getting a chance to show what I’m about. I’m just happy it’s over the line now and I can look forward to starting fresh.
“It’s a great club to be at and it’s a new chance for me, a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it. So we’ll just see how it goes.
“I was always in and around the first team for the last three years at Everton, but when there’s that much quality ahead of you it is difficult to break in.
“It’s not another loan, it’s a permanent move and so I know what I have to do now. I didn’t really want to go out on loan again, it wasn’t really an option for me, I wanted to settle down. It is all about development as a player. Blackburn is a great option for me and I jumped at the chance.”
It’s a new chapter in the life of the Derry man and with the imminent arrival of his first child with Derry girl, Catherine Carlin, due on November next, he’s excited about his future.
“It’s been a bit crazy but hopefully it’s the start of something special and I’m looking forward to this coming year ahead there will be a lot of change ahead.”
His new club, Rovers have yet to keep a clean sheet this season and Rovers boss, Gary Bowyer could hand Duffy a debut against fellow Derry man and good friend, James McClean’s Wigan on September 13th after the international break.
Duffy, who begins training at this week, will be hoping to break straight into the team and he feels he can flourish with a bit of stability.
“It’s international week this week so there’s no game for another week. I’ll go in and train and see what happens.”
Duffy hasn’t yet decided if he’ll up-root from his Merseyside home and make the short journey to Lancashire and he’s happy to take his time to settle in his new surroundings.
“I haven’t decided about moving house or anything just yet I’ll wait until I settle in at the club and take it from there.”
Duffy departs Goodison Park having made 10 senior appearances - six of which were as a substitute. The towering defender is on standby for the Republic of Ireland squad which faces Oman in a friendly in Dublin tomorrow (Wednesday) and a Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia on Sunday.