Thank goodness for footballers like ‘Duffer’

Damien Duff. Photo: Inpho
Damien Duff. Photo: Inpho

I wouldn’t expect anything less from Damien Duff.

Duff joined League of Ireland club, Shamrock Rovers earlier this month but that’s not what impressed me.

The 36 year-old Dubliner has publicly declared that ‘every penny’ of the salary he earns with Rovers will be donated to charity. Has there ever been such a sincere example of altruism in Irish football like this? I don’t think so.

Cynics will try to deny Duff rightful praise by saying that he doesn’t need the money and that his donations to charity are nothing more than perfectly constructed publicity stunts. I disagree.

Damien Duff is unlike the vast majority of footballers. Yes, he has had a successful and financially rewarding career, but that does not mean he should be vilified for it.

Duff has faced more than his fair share of challenging situations. His son, Woody, was born with a congenital heart defect.

The charities benefiting from Duff’s generosity are Temple Street, who raise money for the Temple Street Children’s Hospital and Heart Children Ireland which supports children born with congenital heart defects.

“Every penny I get is going to charity,” said Duff. “I don’t want a penny. I thought it would be something nice to do because I just want to play football.

“The only thing I’ve taken from Rovers is the loan of a car through Hyundai until I sort my situation out. Otherwise, every penny I get - whether it be bonuses, incentives or whatever, appearance money - is all going to those two charities 50-50.

“I’ve done a bit in the past with charities, including Heart Children Ireland because of my son, and it was straightforward enough. I don’t want to make a big story out of it.

“The charities are close to my heart. My son’s operation took place in London but the check-ups were done here.”

Most footballers turn into cash obsessed nymphomaniacs when they start earning some money. It’s ugly to witness.

However, it’s nice to know that not all footballers are like this.

Duff is not the only altruistic footballer who has attempted to help others.

Dutch central defender, Ron Vlaar, spent his summer working with under-privileged children in Bangalore.

“Focusing on the problems of these kids is something of a good cause and it helps me take my mind off my own troubles,” he said.

Liverpool and Italy centre-forward, Mario Balotelli might not be cutting it on the pitch these days but when it comes to helping others, he is in a league of his own.

Balotelli is believed to have donated a five figure sum to a dog shelter that was damaged by a serious fire and during his time with Manchester City it was reported he drove around the streets of Manchester handing out cash to the homeless.

If you ran into Luis Suarez on a dark night you would be excused if you felt terrified but the Uruguay and Barcelona star is not all bad.

Suarez posed as a doctor in a video sent to a young cancer sufferer and offered to bring him one of his shirts if the boy agreed to take his medicine and listen to his doctors.

Footballers aren’t all bad but, sometimes it takes someone like Damien Duff, to remind us of that.