Euro glory can soothe Duff's Paris pain
THE anger will rise again for Damien Duff when he brings himself to watch this summer's World Cup finals, but the injustice the Irishman suffered at the hand of Thierry Henry would be tempered somewhat by winning the Europa League this season.
Never before, perhaps, has capturing this second-tier trophy been equated with being denied a place on the sport's biggest stage, but Duff went even further saying it would mean more than simply making up for the disappointment.
"That and more," he said. "I suppose in a way it is a distant memory, that November night in Paris (the play-off defeat to France). Getting to a European final would be massive. No one thought we would have a chance of getting to the final when we set off on this journey."
The 31-year-old midfielder said Fulham's impressive run in the competition, which takes them to the second leg of a quarter-final tonight away to German champions Wolfsburg, had already helped him "get over" what happened with Ireland.
"It will open new wounds when I'm watching it (the World Cup) on the TV but it's been a fantastic journey, there have been some great games in the group stages and in the knockout stages we have had some fantastic fixtures."
Talking of a final, when in the last eight, and with a slender 2-1 lead, may sound presumptuous, but Duff's enthusiasm for the game, which had all but died during three miserable years at Newcastle, has been refired by his move to Craven Cottage last summer.
"It's well documented that my three years in Newcastle didn't work out," he said. "It was a massive move for me to Fulham. I knew the gaffer (manager Roy Hodgson) from my Blackburn days and this whole season has sparked me again. I'm really enjoying it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Fulham (probable, 4-4-1-1) -- Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Davies; Gera; Zamora.
Wolfsburg (probable, 4-1-2-1-2) -- Benaglio; Pekarik, Madlung, Barzagli, Schafer; Josue; Riether, Gentner; Misimovic; Dzeko, Grafite.
Wolfsburg v Fulham
Live, Setanta Ire/ITV 4, 8.05