After an unexpected summer move to India, former Rangers, Falkirk and Hibernian striker Darryl Duffy is now enjoying his new life on the beaches of Goa.
“It has been positive. I am enjoying my football again, scoring goals and playing well. Although our bus driver drives the team bus like it’s a Ferrari which is quite scary,” said the well-travelled Duffy, who made the move to India after a two-year spell at Cheltenham Town.
Having spent his entire playing career in Britain, Duffy signed for I-League club Salgaocar FC after his friend and former team-mate Alan Gow, who played in the I-League for six months, enquired about his availability for a move to India.
“He got in touch with me to ask if I would be interested. At first I was very reluctant, but after giving it a second thought I decided to come to India.”
But even after having made up his mind, the striker found it tough to convince his family and friends back home in Scotland about his new journey.
“When I first told them, they were surprised mostly. They always knew I almost certainly wanted to play abroad at some point, but probably thought it would be somewhere in Europe. India was a shock for them,” he said.
“I have always wanted to play outside of the UK at some point in my career and because of my children and their ages [one and three] it was a good time to move before they got settled in school in the UK,” he continued.
Duffy started his career as a youth player at Rangers in 2003, and after a loan spell at Brechin he left Ibrox to join Falkirk. His successful time with the Bairns was followed by stints at Hull City, Hartlepool, Bristol Rovers, Carlisle and Swansea City, before he returned to Scotland for a loan spell under his old Falkirk manager John Hughes at Hibs. A move to Cheltenham followed, and now he has landed in Goa.
Far away from Scotland, the 29-year-old former Under-21 and B international initially found it hard to handle the humidity, but he is well acclimatising now. “When I first came out of the airport I couldn’t breathe,” said Duffy. “As a footballer I have been fortunate enough to have played in most of Europe, Australia and Bermuda in various football tournaments for club and country. But none of them matched the humidity I’ve experienced in Goa so far.”
Apart from the weather, Duffy was also in for a cultural shock. Unable to understand the language and the way things are done in this country, Duffy describes his initial days in India as ‘tough’.
“It was difficult for me but I think I’ve adapted quite well so far. But the longer I’m here the more I’ll acclimatise,” he said.
After grinding it out for the first few weeks, he has settled in very well with his new team-mates. He has been in goalscoring form, netting five goals in five games in the Goa Pro-League and also scored on his I-League debut in a 1-0 win over reigning champions Churchill Brothers.
His coach, Derrick Pereira, also thinks of him very highly, describing him as one of the best strikers in the league at present.
Duffy has also been featured in I-league team of the week twice after his scintillating performances. The fans at Salgoacar, one of most successful football clubs in India, have also taken a liking to their new blue-eyed boy, singing his name every time he gets on the ball.
Duffy enjoys all the attention. “It’s nice to be the only Scot here, actually. There has been loads of attention, so it is all good,” he laughed.
When asked about what lies in the future for him, Duffy wants to take it one step at a time. “Football is a funny old game. You never know where it might take you. If you asked me two or three years ago if I would be playing in India now I wouldn’t believe it.”