• Joins fellow ex-Dons stars Barry Robson and Derek Young in a vibrant Academy set-up
  • Will oversee the growth of all players in the U13-U16 bracket at the Scottish Premiership club
  • Hangs up his boots for good to now concentrate on his coaching career

POINTING THE WAY...Stuart Duff in his playing days for Aberdeen, now he is the club's Youth Phase

STUART DUFF has spoken of his pride at winning a role in the heart of his hometown heroes Aberdeen's Academy after he was appointed the Dons' new Youth Phase Manager.

The 39-year-old Sport Careers Agency client has hung up his boots for good to concentrate on the role of helping to produce a conveyor belt of talent at the Scottish Premiership club's plush new Cormack Park training complex.

Duff joins fellow ex-Dons stars Barry Robson and Derek Young in the Academy as they strive to unearth and nurture the talents that can one day grace new manager Stephen Glass' first team.

And as he settled into and exciting challenge Stuart told the club's Red TV: "It's a role that I am very passionate about, I feel it is a privilege to have this post.

"As Youth Phase Manager I will be overseeing the U13s to the U16s at the club and preparing them towards making that step nearer the next stage and then the first team.

"It can be dealing with parents to helping deliver the curriculum we use in training, it's about promoting a brand of football we want to play at the club from the first team down."

Duff was raised as a player at Dundee United where his versatility saw him used across the defence and in midfield throughout nine years at Tannadice.

He earned 10 caps for Scotland at Under-21 level and then enjoyed two years as a player at Aberdeen, the club he has always supported.

And he smiled: "It was an honour to play for this club, I'm a huge fan of the Dons so I am sure people will recognise what this job means to me.

"In the last few years I have been doing my coaching badges and always wanting to look at a challenge like this.

"I have my coaching aspirations now and that's it, I have hung up my boots now to concentrate on them."

Duff's passion for the game and his adventurous spirit saw him make some innovative moves in the latter stages of his playing career.

He had a short spell in Maltese football with Qormi and then two seasons in the Kazakhstan Premier League with top side Kairat Almaty.

Now he will be a key part of helping to continue the Aberdeen Academy process that has already developed current first team stars like Connor McLennan, Jack MacKenzie and exciting emerging defender Calvin Ramsay.

Stuart stressed: "There is a big challenge in front of us and I aim to be relentless in my quest to produce a lot of first team players in the future.

"For me there has to be a pathway for us to move players up an age group, we have some right now who are playing TWO YEARS up and that tells you a lot about the quality that we have here.

"We have a terrific environment here and superb facilities at Cormack Park, it's down to us as coaches to get the most out of the players now both individually and as a collective.

"The end goal is to produce our own players and move them onto Barry Robson above me in the Development Phase with the Under-18s.

"The players that we can see in that team now who are graduating towards the first team should be the signal of what can be achieved."

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