Shane Duffy has spoken of his “honour” at signing for boyhood heroes Celtic following the completion of a one-year loan deal from Brighton. The Derry-born 28-year-old has never hidden his personal feelings for the Scottish champions and it is believed the emotional pull proved the decisive factor in his arrival in Scotland.
Both West Brom and West Ham attempted to agree a permanent transfer for the powerful centre-back, with a willingness to meet Brighton’s £5m valuation and match the players £45,000-a-week wages. However, he forced a loan move to Celtic by refusing to countenance any other destinations, meaning that the south coast club will pay half of his wages while also receiving a £1.5m loan fee.
Duffy, currently in Ireland on international duty, will join up at Celtic next week. And the prospect of donning the club’s colours for the first time when they travel to Dingwall to face Ross County on September 12 is already exciting the defender, a product of the Everton academy who spent two years with Blackburn Rovers before moving to Brighton in 2016. It was only last year that he lost his place with the English Premier League side.
Speaking to FAI TV for the Irish’s team hotel base in Sofia ahead of their Nations League encounter with Bulgaria tomorrow, Duffy admitted the much touted move had been “a long time coming”. On Celtic TV, meanwhile, he admitted his debut cannot come quickly enough.
"It is a huge honour for me to join Celtic, such a huge institution and a brilliant football club that I have always loved and admired It will be a fantastic personal moment for me when I pull on the Celtic jersey,” he said. “It’s just a great feeling – I could not be happier to be part of the club now and I just can’t wait to start working with the Manager, the staff and the players when I return from International duty with Ireland. We will be challenging on a lot of fronts this season and I am really excited about getting going, as we try and bring the fans more and more success.”
Duffy is the fourth addition to the Celtic squad this summer following the near £13m invested in the permanent transfers of Vasilis Barkas, Albian Ajeti and David Turnbull. And his manager Neil Lennon hinted at Duffy’s capture having added a steel to the club’s backline that has been perceived as lacking in the partnership of Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer when praising the qualities of the Irishman, renowned for his big personality, doggedness and heading abilities in both boxes.
“We are delighted to bring a player of Shane’s quality to Celtic,” said Lennon. “He is an international player with so many great attributes. He is leader and he’s a warrior – someone with real ability and who will also give us that great physical presence. I know too he is a player who will add great personality to the dressing room. This is a real coup for the Club. From the off, Shane wanted to come to Celtic and we are delighted we have been able to fend off English Premier League interest. We are delighted with Shane’s decision to come and I am delighted with the business which Nick Hammond and the board have done, not only in bringing Shane to Celtic, but throughout the window. We can’t wait to get Shane involved in the squad as we look to the many challenges ahead.”
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