“I came close two or three times,” Duff told FourFourTwo when asked about the Reds.
“The first was a year or two before I signed for Chelsea. I would have gone there, but Blackburn wanted a big fee so not too many clubs could afford to buy me back then! When I was leaving Chelsea, the same move nearly happened again,” the retired winger explained.
Having been an emerging talent when first club Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League in 1999, Duff was hot property by the time Rovers had established themselves back in the top flight a couple of years later.
He had made a huge impression for Ireland at the 2002 World Cup and it is little surprise to learn that Liverpool, managed by Gerard Houllier and later Rafa Benitez when Duff became available in 2006, were so interested in his services.
As it was, Chelsea swooped in with a £17m offer in the summer of 2003 to make Duff one of the first signings of the Roman Abramovich era. He was the most expensive Stamford Bridge arrival that year, despite the high profile signings of Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastian Veron, Adrian Mutu and Claude Makelele.
Recalling his move to west London, Duff added, “I remember lying in bed in the summer, dying with a hangover, when I got the call that they wanted me.
“It was a bolt out of the blue. I flew over a couple of times because I wasn’t quite sure, but eventually I signed and it was the right decision. Within a month they’d spent £150 million on people like Crespo and Veron.”
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