Duff relishes Euro 2012 chance
Fulham winger wants to make up for lost time in major finals
Last Updated: June 9, 2012 1:34pm
Damien Duff: Keen to get started at first major finals in 10 years
Damien Duff is determined to make the most of what could be his last shot at a major international tournament.
The Fulham winger is one of a host of 30-something Ireland stars who all featured in the Republic's last visit to a major finals, the 2002 World Cup.
Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Robbie Keane are among the squad members who, like Duff, are in their 30s.
And the former Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Newcastle man says they are all relishing the chance to shine on a big stage once again.
"It means more to me now than it did 10 years ago," Duff admitted. "A few of us are in our 30s now and I suppose we are on the home straight, so to speak.
"You never know, this could be our last tournament, so you have to savour it.
"It's a major tournament so you can't help but get excited about it. It has been a long wait since 2002 for everybody, not just the players but the fans as well."
Ireland go into their opening match at Euro 2012 against Croatia on Sunday on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run, which Duff says has instilled a great sense of confidence in the Irish squad.
"I don't know if teams here are underestimating us," he said. "That would benefit us if they do, so hopefully they are. But we have massive belief. We are on a good run, so there is a lot of belief to beat anybody on our day.
"We can be a bit tighter all round. It's a nice run. We hope we can carry it on through the championships."
Duff is itching to get started after Ireland's good run-in and now the start of the tournament itself.
"We just want to get rocking now. We're sick of all the waiting around. I more or less stayed in bed all day on our day off," he admitted.
"Croatia are a top team and they have been there or thereabouts for as long as I can remember. They went to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1998 and they have top players like Modric.
"I keep hearing that they will be going all out for the three points, but I don't think a point is the end of the world in your opening game."