Damien Duff played with some of the best players in the world during his three-year spell at Stamford Bridge, but can you guess the trio of former Blues team-mates who made it into his all-time XI?
As one of only six players to have been capped more than 100 times by the Republic of Ireland, and on the day he scored his first goal for the Blues back in 2003, the 39-year-old’s #One2Eleven for Sky Sports unsurprisingly featured plenty of his former international colleagues.
Perhaps more surprisingly, though, his trophy-laden stint in west London, when he was one of the first signings of the Roman Abramovich era, did not result in more than three of his fellow Blues making it into his team.
Despite our Premier League title-winning side of 2004/05 conceding a record-setting low of 15 goals, only one member of that defence earned selection from Duff – although with Roy Keane also in the side, there’d be an interesting debate when it comes to who takes the captain’s armband!
‘JT isn’t one of the quickest but he reads the game well,’ he said. ‘These players have a way of nicking the ball off you. You think you’ll run past someone but you don’t, and he’s made a career out of that – making the right decisions.
‘People underestimate how good he is on the ball. He’s ridiculous – both feet. Great craic, great banter, always messing about in the changing room. So, a captain on and off the field, no doubt.’
The next Chelsea man to earn a place in his selection is someone who certainly benefited from having the creativity of Duff alongside him in midfield.
Frank Lampard finished as our top scorer in all competitions in two of the three seasons he played alongside the fleet of foot wideman and his insatiable appetite for football is what most impressed Duff.
‘He was right up my street during my time at Chelsea because he just worked so hard, always doing extra in training,’ he said.
‘People look at his finishing and think that’s natural, but it’s not – it’s that five or 10 minutes training every day. Over a career that adds up to an awful lot of time finishing. That timing of running into the box, I don’t think you can coach that but he had that off to a tee.’
The final member of the trio is someone who spent very little time playing alongside Duff, as injury problems caught up with both of them during their two years together at Stamford Bridge.
However, there was a four-month period in the 2004/05 season when Duff and Robben, both ostensibly left wingers, lined up in the same three-man frontline to wreak havoc upon Premier League defences.
‘When I first saw him at Chelsea, it was the first two weeks of pre-season training with Jose Mourinho, but then he got injured and it wasn’t until October that he came on for the last 20 minutes of a game,’ Duff said of the Dutchman.
‘I still hadn’t really seen what he was about, but we were 1-0 up against Blackburn and then he just sparked that team. Even with Lampard and Terry, he was the catalyst in that team that broke points records.
‘He just had that confidence which Dutch players seemed to have. Bordering on arrogant, but a top guy who backs himself even if three people were taking him on.’
It should also be noted that there is another former Chelsea man in there, although he arrived at the club long after Duff had departed. That man is goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who the Irishman lined up alongside at Fulham when our west-London neighbours made it to the Europa League final in 2010.