Republic of Ireland new boy Shane Duffy says the call up to the senior squad is his proudest moment but admits he has a battle on his hands to make Giovanni Trapattoni’s Euro 2012 travelling party.
The Everton defender has had a whirlwind two months, making his Premier League debut against Tottenham and then being called into the Ireland squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Czech Republic, but says he has time on his side.
“The Euros are far [away] from me, I am still young. Hopefully, in the next four years I can be in the next Euros. If it doesn’t happen this year, it doesn’t happen but if it does, it would be such a proud achievement and I’ll be ready,” the 20-year-old said.
“It’s happened so quickly. I’ve just spent Christmas on my own, then a week later I’m playing at Villa Park. Football’s crazy… a month later I’m sitting with the Irish squad. Words can’t describe how proud I am, how happy I am.”
Duffy represented Northern Ireland at underage level but says that he has no regrets about switching allegiance to the Republic.
“[It’s] the best decision I’ve made in my career. I am not being disrespectful to Northern Ireland [but] the Republic of Ireland is my country, and I am proud and honoured to even get picked in the squad.”
In 2010, Duffy suffered a near-fatal injury after colliding with a goalkeeper in a Republic of Ireland development squad game in Dublin. He required emergency surgery at the time and is eager to put that incident behind him.
“I always hoped that I could still play football afterwards – I believed in myself. That’s two years ago and I don’t like talking about it because it’s a low point in my career, but it made me stronger and more mature.”
Trapattoni has indicated that both Duffy and the other uncapped player in the squad, Sunderland’s James McClean, will get some game time against Michal Bilek’s team in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.
And Duffy was eager to sing the praises of his new team-mate who has also represented the North at under-21 level before declaring for the Boys in Green.
“I’ve known he’s had that [talent] in his locker since the day I met him. In terms of him as a player, everyone can see it now because he’s on the TV. Hopefully, he can bring [his form] to Ireland and he can get on the plane too,” Duffy told reporters at the ‘3’ FAI International Football Awards in Dublin on Sunday night.
The Derry-born defender was also keen to thank club boss David Moyes who he credits with his success to date.
“That’s just down to confidence and the manager believing in me. When I came back from my loan [at Scunthorpe] he said, ‘You’re a different player, you look confident, you look more mature,’ so I take that in.
“I have to thank Everton for getting me back from my injury [and] looking after me since I was 16. I’d happily stay at Everton for the rest of my career. Without Everton, I’d be nowhere.”