Damien Duff has admitted his regret and has described leaving Chelsea as a “rash decision” but has rubbished claims he fell out with Jose Mourinho.
Former Republic of Ireland winger Duff was a key part of Mourinho’s Chelsea side which won consecutive Premier League titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06, but left for Newcastle in the summer of 2006 after falling out of favour following a number of injuries.
Duff told Chelsea’s official website: “Looking back now, did I make the wrong decision in leaving? Yes.”
“I remember speaking to the club about a new contract; I never had a falling out with Jose. I still loved it there but I just wanted to go and play football week in, week out.
“I made my decision, probably a rash decision, but it’s something I stand by. I wish I’d stayed, I should have stayed. Chelsea is the only club where I was in pieces when I was leaving.”
Duff was one of Roman Abramovich’s first signings at Chelsea, joining in a £17million move from Blackburn under Claudio Ranieri, but became one of the most effective attackers in the Premier League under Mourinho.
“For the first couple of [Mourinho’s] squads, Man United at home and Palace away, I wasn’t even on the bench,” he said.
“He wasn’t convinced I’d got over my shoulder injury, but that’s how I like to be dealt with. I don’t like an arm around the shoulder, I like a kick up the behind.
“It was a wake-up call that he wanted more from me, which is what I gave him. I got in the team and pretty much stayed in it for the rest of the season, injuries permitting.”
The 37-year-old was part of a fearsome front three alongside Didier Drogba and Arjen Robben, and Duff remembered the Dutchman’s debut, when he came off the bench in a home game against Blackburn.
“It was an eye opener to see how good Robbie was,” he said.
“You could see stuff in training but I remember him coming on that day for half-an-hour and he was unbelievable. You’d have to say he brought us to another level.”