THE PROUD father of rising Republic of Ireland star, Shane Duffy, believes his son has the potential to one day captain his country after watching him come of age in Wednesday’s historic Euro 2016 victory over Italy in Lille.
The Blackburn Rovers defender was told shortly before kick-off he would make his tournament debut against the Group E winners at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
I’ve remortgaged the house twice. But if I’m in debt and danger after this it will be worth every penny of it.Brian Duffy
Having previously won just three international caps, all of them in friendlies, Shane was thrown into a ‘win or bust’ clash against the four times world champions and his no nonsense approach earned him rave reviews.
As Brian Duffy, his wife Siobhan and their family made their way to the ground, he received an unexpected text from Shane to tell him he’d be making his Euros’ bow alongside Richard Keogh at the heart of the Irish defence.
After an admittedly ‘shaky start’ to the game, where his over-hit backpass had keeper, Darren Randolph, in trouble, Shane grew into it and his dad felt he didn’t look out of place against the Italians.
Six years after witnessing his son almost lose his life in a freak training ground accident for the Ireland squad in Malahide, Brian admits he never thought he would see the day Shane represented his country in a major tournament. And, he believes it’s just the start of what could be a long, proud career in an Ireland shirt.
“I’ve always believed in Shane’s ability,” said Brian. “There’s something different about Shane. I can’t put it into words. My wife, Siobhan, is a great believer that he will one day captain Ireland and I’m convinced now.
“He’s very vocal on the pitch and he’s a leader,” he added. “He’s captained teams in the past and even captained Blackburn Rovers. He did himself no harm last night with that performance. He took control and he doesn’t look one bit out of place.
“We got a text from Shane an hour and a half before the match to say he was starting,” he revealed. “We were just making our way to the ground, so to find out he was playing, we were all over the place.
“I know he had a few shaky moments and he’ll even tell you himself. But he grew into the game and, in the second half, I thought he didn’t look one bit out of place.
“There was one clearance in the 89th or 90th minute, he put his head to the ball and cleared it maybe 30 yards and I thought, ‘that’s it! That’s what you’re there for’. He was comfortable and I was comfortable watching the match.
“I wasn’t nervous but, when I sat down this morning, I was thinking, ‘did this actually happen?’”
Recalling the day when Shane needed life-saving surgery on a lacerated liver in May 2010, an emotional Brian said he was delighted to see his eldest son finally get his chance on the international stage.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think, when the Irish team doctor, Alan Byrne, came out and told me we almost lost Shane, that he would do what he did last night.
“It’s just so hard to take in.”
So, as Ireland prepare for a first ever last 16 European Championship clash on Sunday against host nation, France, in Lyon, Brian is confident his son can keep his place in the starting line-up.
“It was an amazing experience and we’ve now got Sunday to look forward to. I don’t think Shane’s done himself any harm with his performance against the Italians. I personally think he’ll get the nod but you just don’t know.
“I’m just off the phone to him. He wants us to go back down to Paris and meet up with him this evening. We haven’t seen him in two weeks so we’ll have a meal with him tonight and see how he feels about it all.”
Brian and his family have followed the Ireland team around France since the Group E opener on Monday, June 13th, and he says it’s been an amazing experience and one which has left him out of pocket - but he says it’s been worth every penny!
“It’s an amazing experience. It hasn’t really sunk in.” yet.”minute.
“We didn’t expect to be staying in France but because of the result we’re moving hotels.
“I’ve remortgaged the house twice,” he laughed. “But if I’m in debt and danger after this it will be worth every penny of it.”