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Duff to captain the Irish against Italy

Damien Duff will captain the Republic of Ireland in their final Euro 2012 fixture against Italy as he reaches 100 caps for his country.

The Fulham winger will become the fifth Irish player to bring up a century of appearances for his country against the Italians in Poznan tomorrow night, following in the footsteps of usual skipper Robbie Keane, Shay Given, Kevin Kilbane and Steve Staunton. Irish coach Giovanni Trapattoni told reporters that LA Galaxy forward Keane had asked for Duff to be allowed to lead the side out during their final group game.

Duff, who made his senior debut against the Czech Republic some fourteen years ago in the same game as Keane, typically wanted to focus on finishing Ireland’s tournament on a high rather than reflecting on his own personal landmark.

It’s something I’ll maybe look back on next week, next year – I know it’s a feat, but at the moment a good result tomorrow is what I want. It’s an awfully proud moment – I know how much it means to myself and my family.

Trapattoni was fulsome in his praise of the 33 year-old.

All of us should express our gratitude to Damien. He is not only an excellent footballer, but is a role model and example to future generations.

Keane expressed his admiration for Duff’s qualities and felt that he deserved to lead the team out on such a special occasion.

Damien Duff has been a massive player. Duff has been a massive player. We’ve been through a hell of a lot together. People speak very highly of him. We’ve been very good friends since we made our debut together. He will go down as one of the best players we’ve ever produced.

Dempsey delivers historic win over Italy

The United States stunned Italy on Wednesday as Clint Dempsey’s second-half goal gave the Americans their first ever victory over the Azzurri in 11 meetings.

Dempsey became only the fourth American to score against Italy when he fired past Gianluigi Buffon in the 55th minute, and the US clung on for a memorable win in the friendly international.

It is Jurgen Klinsmann’s fifth victory in 10 games as US coach and will also serve as personal revenge for the former Germany great after losing the 2006 World Cup semifinal to eventual champion Italy when in charge of the German national team.

Italy almost snatched a draw in stoppage time when Riccardo Montolivo’s effort flashed past the right upright. It is the Azzurri’s first defeat in Genoa since 1924.