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JOURNEY TO TOWN: HEAD COACH MICHAEL DUFF

13 May 2024

Club News

JOURNEY TO TOWN: HEAD COACH MICHAEL DUFF

13 May 2024

A look at the life and career of new Huddersfield Town Head Coach Michael Duff

- Michael Duff named Huddersfield Town Head Coach
- A closer look at his life and career before joining the Club
- Duff to begin work for 2024/25 season immediately

Fast approaching 1,000 games in professional football as both a player and coach, 46-year-old Michael Duff isn’t shy of experience in the game having not looked back after starting his career with Cheltenham Town in 1996.

Born in Belfast to a military family 1978, life in the Armed Forces would take them to Gibraltar and Germany before settling for a number of years in Bedale, North Yorkshire.

A central defender that would eventually stand at six foot one, short periods within the academies of Nottingham Forest, Darlington and Swindon Town were allegedly cut short due his initial lack of stature. Eventually scouted by Cheltenham Town at 16-years-old whilst playing for Carterton Town in Oxfordshire, the teenage Duff would take the chance with both hands. One loan with Cirencester Town later, Duff’s first full season with the Robins saw them promoted from the Southern League, with an FA Trophy win following at Wembley in 1998.

With no halt to his upward trajectory, he would score a 93rd minute winner against Yeovil Town a season later to secure Cheltenham’s rise to the Football League. The highlight of his time in Gloucestershire in a playing capacity was a final promotion in 2002 to the then Second Division - now Sky Bet League One - with Duff was named in the 2001/02 Third Division Team of the Year by the PFA, earning his first cap for Northern Ireland in the process.

Signed by then Sky Bet Championship side Burnley in 2004 for a reported £30,000, Duff once again established himself as a regular starter in the side. Part of the Clarets side that earned promotion to the Premier League after a 33-year top flight absence via the Play-Offs, he would remain at Turf Moor until the end of the 2015/16 season, being relegated and subsequently promoted again to the Premier League in that time.

Making over 300 appearances for both Cheltenham Town and Burnley, Duff was also capped 24 times by Northern Ireland which included a 1-0 win over England in 2005.

Following retirement, Duff wasted no time in beginning his coaching career, taking control of Burnley’s U18 side in 2016 before moving on to the U23 side in 2017. Taking on additional responsibilities within the first team at Turf Moor too, he was part of the coaching staff that oversaw UEFA Europa League matches in 2018.

Taking on his first managerial role in the same year, Duff was named Manager of his former side Cheltenham Town in September 2018, taking the reigns in Sky Bet League Two. In charge for four years at Whaddon Road, duff stabilised the side in his first campaign before leading them to a fifth placed finish in the 2019/20 campaign, winning two Manager of the Month Awards in the process. Building on that in the two subsequent seasons, Duff would then lead Cheltenham on a historic run.

Becoming champions of Sky Bet League Two in the 2020/21 season, it would be the Robins first time back in Sky Bet League One for 12 years, with the club briefly dropping out of the EFL into the National League in that time between. Named the Manager of the Season at the EFL Awards within the division, Duff and his side would not rest, with their 15th placed finish in the 2021/22 campaign the highest in the history of the team. Winning the race for his signature amongst wider interest, Duff then joined Barnsley in June 2022 on a three year contract.

Hitting the ground running in South Yorkshire, Duff would win consecutive Manager of the Month awards in November and December before collecting a third in February, underlining the consistency with which his side played in their run to the Play-Offs. Losing to Sheffield Wednesday in extra-time at Wembley having been reduced to 10 men early in the second half, Duff had overseen an overhaul of their squad in the summer before amassing 86 points to finish in fourth place, scoring 80 goals in the process.

Headhunted by Sky Bet Championship side Swansea City, the Welsh side agreed a significant compensation fee with Barnsley to acquire Duff’s services for the 2023/24 season. Part of a large squad overhaul in the summer, after a slower start Duff oversaw four wins in a row over September and October, the only time the side would manage that all season. Despite that, the two parted ways in December 2023 and his arrival at Town marks his return to the game.

With a proven track record in Sky Bet League One, his early arrival in the summer at Town will give Duff a full pre-season to prepare ahead of the 2024/25 campaign. To find out more about the appointment, including quotes from Chairman Kevin Nagle, Sporting Director Mark Cartwright and Michael Duff himself, CLICK HERE.

Join us back at the John Smith's Stadium for the 2024/25 season - CLICK HERE to renew your Season Card today!


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