Centurion Duff to lead Ireland

Damien Duff will lead the Republic of Ireland in their final UEFA EURO 2012 fixture against Italy admitting he would swap his 100th cap for a win. The 33-year-old has been handed the armband by usual skipper Robbie Keane to mark the achievement of becoming just the fifth man to complete a century for the country.

However, with Ireland having lost both of their opening games to Croatia and Spain, he will spend his big night attempting to secure a first point of the tournament. Duff said: "It's obviously an awfully proud moment, but I would take three points tomorrow ahead of 100 caps at the minute.

"I know how much it means to myself and my family and what have you, but I am not trying to make a big deal out of it. I just want to get on with the game and hopefully do the business."

Duff has never been one of the more talkative members of the squad and his appearance on the stage alongside Keane and manager Giovanni Trapattoni at this evening's pre-match press conference in Poznan was something of a rarity. He joked: "I was dragged here kicking and screaming, to be fair. I'm never one to make big a thing out of anything in life.

"It's something that I will probably look back on maybe next week, maybe next year. It's a feat, but at the minute, I just want to get a good performance and a good result tomorrow."

I know how much it means to myself and my family and what have you, but I am not trying to make a big deal out of it. I just want to get on with the game and hopefully do the business.
Damien Duff, temporary Republic of Ireland captain, on claiming his 100th cap

Keane had no qualms over passing on his duties for the night to a man he holds in the highest esteem both on and off the pitch. The striker said: "He's been obviously a massive, massive player since he made his debut. We made ours together and we have been through a hell of a lot together.

"As we all know, he's a top, top-class player and the respect that he has around the dressing room from every player and how people speak so highly of him. When you are around him, he is great company and not only that, he's a top, top player.

"We have been very good friends since we made our debuts and it was only right for me to make this gesture because he has been an absolute credit to his country and will go down as probably one of the best players that we have ever produced."

Duff is one of a series of thirty-somethings in Trapattoni's squad who has been tipped to call it a day after the finals. The Fulham midfielder admitted he had made his decision in his own mind, but was not about to go public as he contemplated playing on into his mid-30s.

It remains to be seen whether that plan involves club and country, however. Duff said: "I think I have made my mind up what I'm going to do, but it's probably not the right time to be letting anyone know. I am sure the rest of the lads know what they are going to do as well

"With regards to playing on well into my 30s, I don't think it should be a problem. I look after myself and feel as good as ever at the minute, so I don't see why not."

The post mortem on Ireland's showing in Poland is already under way back at home, and there has been soul-searching within the camp since Thursday night's 4-0 humbling by world and European champions Spain.

Duff said: "What went wrong in this tournament? I don't know, I suppose you can just say we weren't good enough when it came to the crunch. They are two very disappointing results and we are looking to restore a bit of pride tomorrow."