Bred A Blue: Shane Duffy On Learning From The Best At Everton

Our latest ‘Bred a Blue’ conversation is with Celtic and Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy.

Duffy left Everton to join Blackburn Rovers in 2014 and later made a return to the Premier League with Brighton & Hove Albion.

He only made 10 first-team appearances for the Blues after crossing the Irish Sea as a teenager, but he admits that he knew it was time to move on when he swapped Goodison Park for Ewood Park.

He had Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, two of the Premier League’s most consistent central defenders, in front of him.


“I’m realistic, I probably wasn’t good enough at the time to break through at Everton but the biggest thing I took from my time with the Club was learning from those guys,” he said.

“They were unbelievable centre-halves and I looked up to them. I was never one to say, ‘I’m after your position’, because I had that much respect for them. It was a privilege to be around that squad at such a young age.

“I knew I had to go my own way and build my own career from there.

“Sylvain was unbelievable. I would look at him and think, ‘Is this man ever going to finish and give me a chance!’

"He was first in the gym and last out, and the way he lived his life was just the proper way to be a professional footballer and if you have half the career that he had, then you’ve done alright.”

Duffy has certainly done much more than "alright" since catching the eye of David Moyes playing in an Under-16s international at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road in 2007.

“I was playing in the Victory Shield for Northern Ireland against England,” he recalled. “David Moyes was the Everton manager at the time and he was at the game. Jose Baxter was playing against me.

"We drew 2-2, I scored a goal and had a good game. The next day I got a call to come over for a trial.

“Neil Dewsnip and Kevin Sheedy were the youth team coaches and they were brilliant with me. They knew where I’d come from and that I’d need a bit of time to get used to the pace.

"And I was fortunate that David Moyes took a liking to me and pushed me on.”


Duffy’s Everton debut came in a UEFA Cup tie away to AEK Athens in December 2009. Moyes was short of central defensive options and when Duffy replaced the injured Distin just 18 minutes into the game he was alongside Tony Hibbert at the heart of the back four.

It was an experience he thoroughly enjoyed and he played his part in a 1-0 victory.

“The Everton fans are always great with young players coming through,” he said. “They always back them and give their full support, even when the young player didn’t have their best game. 

"I remember when Moyes told me I was going on, I put my tape on around my calves too tight and I couldn’t feel my feet! There was nothing fancy about it - me and Hibbo just cleared everything!”

To catch up on the first episode of Bred A Blue, featuring Nick Chadwick, click here, and to listen to our second instalment, with James Vaughan, click here.