Duffy Learning By Example
Captains Week kicks off with the Under-21s skipper.
Following the example set by Phil Neville and Phil Jagielka has turned Under-21 skipper Shane Duffy into a better player.
That is the verdict of the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international - who made a strong impression in 2012/13 as captain of the Blues' second string in the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League.
Duffy was an impressive leader as he helped Alan Stubbs' side progress to within a few minutes of booking a place in the tournament final at the end of a campaign in which the side enjoyed a multitude of highs.
But while he relished the responsibility of leading his teammates, he believes donning the skipper's armband also played a key role in helping him develop his own game.
As part of evertontv's Everton Captains series, he explained: "I have learned a lot here from Phil Neville and Phil Jagielka. I have tried to watch how they operate in first-team games and bring that to the reserves.
"I try to be vocal. In the changing room as well. It is down to your personality. If you look at Nev, his personality is unbelievable and Jags is the same. People can be different, it is just about the way you take on the armband and the responsibility.
"On the pitch, I try to be a leader out there. I try to talk to everyone and I have to look after myself as well.
"It is tough being a captain but I have enjoyed it and it has helped me concentrate a lot more in games as well. You have to be fully concentrated all the time."
Duffy may still be a young, emerging player in first-team terms - but as one of the graduates from Everton's Academy system, he is now an elder-statesman alongside the new youngbloods rising through the Club's renowned youth system.
Making the journey from the Academy side of the Finch Farm training base to the senior first-team area may be short in distance - but in career terms it is massive.
And Duffy has enjoyed the responsibility of helping the latest crop of youngsters acclimatise to life as budding young professionals.
He added: "It is about the whole team, but it is an honour to be captain. I am one of the oldest players in the group and probably one of the most experienced.
"When you first come up into this side of the training ground it can be a shock because there is so much quality around you. You just try to make them feel welcome, comfortable and one of the lads. I've tried to do that with the young lads this year and you can see they have enjoyed coming up."
Fulfilling that role is something Duffy is aware of also having to achieve on the pitch.
"There are some games when it isn't going right and they look up to you as the captain," he adds.
"You have to be on it at all times and I'm always there if people need a bit of advice. If they are looking at me and seeing I'm not giving up then... that is what I try to do.
"I'm proud to be part of this team. No matter what level you play at here you have to give everything for the shirt and I feel that we've done that this year. We were just a few minutes from making the final of the Under 21 Premier League.
"Next season is a big one for me and the lads and hopefully we can go one step further.
"But all the lads at this club know what they have got to do. When you are representing the badge and the shirt you know you have to give everything. The lads here know what this club is about and you have seen that all season - they have been good.
"And you can see that some of the Under-16s have stepped up as well. They are not even professionals yet, but they have been brilliant."
As for his own development, Duffy is incredibly grateful to Stubbs and David Weir - themselves both former Blues Club captains.
He continues: "Since I first came up, the coaches have put a lot of work into me and they have stuck with me. And if I haven't been playing well or I have made mistakes, they have always trusted me, thrown me back in and even made me captain this year.
"We have a good bond. Everybody does. You can tell that on the pitch. There have been games this season where we have been losing 2-0 in the last 10 minutes and we have come back to win. The spirit right through from Stubbsy and David Weir is that we never give up and we are all in it together."