The Reds unveiled Michael Duff this afternoon as the Club's new Head Coach, with the Belfast-native signing a three-year deal at Oakwell.
Making over 700 appearances in a 20-year career, our new Head Coach, Michael Duff is no stranger to the English game.
Signing on the dotted line at Oakwell, Duff joins the Reds after a successful four-year reign at Cheltenham Town.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 11, 1978, Duff moved to North Yorkshire as a young child and was raised here in the home of the white rose.
This was where the seeds were sown ahead of a long and successful playing career. Whilst playing for Carterton Town, our new ‘gaffer’ was spotted and invited to play for Cheltenham Town.
Interspersed with a loan spell at Cirencester Town, Duff returned to Whaddon Road and went on to become a mainstay at the heart of the Robins’ defence. His performances warranted an international call-up for Northern Ireland, making his debut against Poland in February 2002.
After playing 242 times and scoring 15 goals for Cheltenham, Burnley came calling. In July 2004, Duff moved back up north, joining the Clarets.
Establishing himself in the first team setup at Turf Moor, the Clarets were promoted to the Premier League. However, a serious injury sustained during their promotion season limited Duff’s involvement, but he returned to action in England’s top division in 2009. His appearance in the Premier League makes him the only player to have played in the top eight divisions in English football in ascending order.
Despite relegation with the Clarets, Duff remained in Lancashire. He tasted the Premier League once again in 2014, and once more in 2016, where our new Head Coach became the first player to be promoted to the Premier League on three occasions with the same club. The promotion in 2016 was to be Duff’s final contribution as a player, hanging up his boots at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
A year after retiring, Duff was appointed as Burnley U23s boss. After a year at Turf Moor in a coaching capacity, the 6’1” coach returned to where his professional career began, taking the reins at Whaddon Road in September 2018.
In his debut coaching role at first team level, Duff collected many accolades and was recognised for his impressive work. Within a year, the Northern Irishman was named Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month.
The 2020/21 season saw Cheltenham promoted as league champions, their first automatic promotion in the Football League, and Duff’s first trophy as a coach. This success resulted in more prestige for the coach; League Two Manager of the Season for 2020/21.
Progress continued in Gloucestershire under Duff’s stewardship, with the Robins placing 15th after the conclusion of the 2021/22 League Two season, the club’s highest ever finish.
It was this success and the performance of Duff’s team that attracted the Reds to pursue the Belfast-born coach. First team coach Martin Devaney played with Duff at Whaddon Road, and the pair will reunite on Grove Street in the dugout.
Barnsley becomes only the third club Duff has joined in his professional footballing career both as a player and a manager.
Everyone at Oakwell extends a warm welcome to Michael!