Damien Duff described his memories as a youth player at Blackburn Rovers as ‘horrible but character building.’
The Ballyboden winger played for Blackburn Rovers from 1996 to 2003, winning a League Cup in the process. However, while he said he would not change his time there for anything in the world, he does recall the harsh treatment that young players received from the senior players at the Lancashire club.
“You were abused the whole way through. When I look at the stuff that was done to us, you’d go to jail now.
“The first week I was there, I was with a young Irish lad and it was his birthday. He was thrown into the back of a car with just his underpants on and blindfolded.
“He was dropped about three or four kilometres away up in the hill and just made find his own way back home. It was horrible but character building.”
Duff, who played 100 times for Ireland, cited Blackburn as the most exciting club at the time, having won the Premier League in 1995. However, Duff recalls as a young apprentice, receiving first-hand digs at the hands of Chris Sutton and Tim Sherwood.
“When I got into the first-team squad, they were horrible to me but in a nice way. I was on team dressing room duty and Sutton would be giving me abuse all the time. Instead of going to shit in the toilet, he’d just leave a bag of shit in the middle of the floor. So, I’d be picking it up.
“I use to clean Tim Sherwood’s boots even though I’d be lining out with him on a Saturday, but during the week, I’d be cleaning his boots, and every morning he’d just come in and say in his Cockney accent, ‘Duffer you c**t,’ because I didn’t do a good job.
“I was well-drilled not to answer people back especially in my first year. If a first-year even answered a second-year back, you would be sent to court and found guilty and you could end up being thrown into a bath with cups of piss thrown on you.”
You can watch Damien Duff's interview back in full here.