Brighton & Hove Albion defender Shane Duffy insists that the time he spent on loan away from Saturday’s opponents Everton made him a better person both on and off the pitch.
The Irishman spent time out on loan at Burnley, Scunthorpe United and Yeovil Town respectively before making the permanent switch to Blackburn Rovers in 2014, and he believes his time at the trio shaped him as a human being as well as a footballer.
He said, “You get good days and bad days but the spells away from the club definitely made me a better player and a better man too.
“I was only young but went to play first team games – Everton is a big club and maybe I wasn’t ready at the time to play for them. The journey I’ve had has been good for me – Everton have some top players and you can never look back.
“I had to move to have a chance of having a decent career and I had to leave to play matches to develop as a footballer and a person.
“I made the right choice at the time and it was the best decision to move and see where it went from there.”
Chris Hughton’s side make the trip to Merseyside tomorrow looking to make it four consecutive Premier League victories, as well as the same number of clean sheets in a row in the process.
Duffy has been integral to the side’s form last month that has seen the Seagulls rise to 11th in the top flight, and he highlighted his debut season in the division as being one which has helped him kick on during the current campaign.
“I feel confident at the moment during matches – last year I adapted and got a full Premier League season under my belt and now I feel as though I’m improving every week.
“I took a step aside and learned by playing regularly when I was younger – it was tough to breakthrough but now I feel like I’m on top of my game and ready to play every week in the Premier League.”
“That confidence in your ability comes by playing games at this level. The step away helped me in the long run, if I had stayed at Everton I might have faded away and it would have made it difficult to come back, but at the moment I’m feeling really good.”
Last month also saw the defender sign a new five-year contract with the side – both Duffy and defensive partner Lewis Dunk penned new deals that cemented their long-term future with the club, and the former emphasised just how much he was currently enjoying life on the south coast.
“I think this is the happiest I’ve been in my career at a club – I feel a part of it every day and I feel at home.
“It’s just the way the club is, it brings people together and it’s a great place to be at the moment.
“We’re doing well, and I was delighted to sign the deal, it was a privilege that the club gave it to me and I’m over the moon to be here – now I want to keep working hard and help the club stay in the Premier League for years to come.”