JIM DUFFY rescued Declan Gallagher from the football scrapheap as a youngster – and is delighted he now stands on the brink of making his Scotland debut.
Duffy signed Gallagher for Clyde in League Two eight years ago after the defender had been released by Celtic as a 20-year-old.
Like all players suffering the bodyblow of failing to make it with their first club, Duffy believes the defender’s career stood in the balance.
But he insists he was always convinced the now Motherwell stopper had the determination to prove himself on the pitch and bounce back from his Hoops rejection.
He said: “It’s always difficult when you leave a big club, and go to the part-time level, particularly. It’s really about your attitude then and your mentality.
“A lot of young boys completely go out of the game or they become very disillusioned because they look at what other people have and think maybe they didn’t get the right opportunities or whatever else.
“So, you’ve got to have a strong mentality to drop down the levels.
“At that time, Clyde were in the lower part of the lowest tier, so you’ve got to say ‘I want to get some games under my belt and some football experience and life experience’ and if you’ve got that belief in your ability you believe you’ll move forward again.
“I remember at the time, Barry Smith was the manager at Dundee and I phoned him up and told him to have a look at Declan, because he was more than good enough for them in the Championship at the time.
“Obviously Barry did that and he went up to sign for Dundee and did very well.
“It was more about his attitude and mentality at that time, and his belief in his own ability that he could use Clyde as a stepping stone.
“That’s what you want from players, you don’t want players going there and just being comfortable. You want them to be ambitious and Declan was ambitious to go back up the levels again and he managed to achieve that.”
Gallagher, 28, spent just a season at Clyde and, after subsequently helping Dundee to win promotion back to the Premiership, was freed in 2014.
Thereafter, his time with Livingston was interrupted by 16 months in prison following a conviction for assault, but Duffy is thrilled Gallagher’s on-field determination has brought football rewards.
He added: “He was always good enough to move on, I had no doubts about that.
“He’s had other issues in his life that have affected his development, and these are things you can’t legislate for in football.
“Fair play to him for getting his life back on track and his football back on track, and to get a Scotland call-up. I’m sure in his wildest dreams he wouldn’t have believed that would happen to him.
“Good luck to him. You wish him well and it just shows you that if you keep working hard and you keep believing then you never know what can happen.”