MICHAEL Duff said he had 'take the plunge' after being confirmed as the new manager of Cheltenham Town.

The Clarets legend has left his role as Burnley Under-23s boss to take over the Robins in League Two and take the first steps of his senior managerial career.

After hanging up his boots in the summer of 2016 Duff moved into the coaching ranks at Turf Moor, taking charge of the Under-18s for a year before stepping up to take over the development squad.

But Duff, who has been at Burnley since the summer of 2004, began his own playing career at Whaddon Road and made 337 appearances for Cheltenham Town, and the attraction of taking his first steps in management back at a club close to his heart proved too difficult to resist.

“A lot of things lined up at the right time. The opportunity came to me," the 40-year-old said.

“I had to think long and hard because I’m in a good place at the minute. But it’s something that’s always been the long-term goal.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision because of the relationship I’ve got with the club and the manager, particularly.

“Some people might say you’re mad doing what I’m doing, but I’d rather do it and see whether I’m any good at it or not, rather than not know, and there’s only one way I’m ever going to find out.

“I only ever had two clubs in my career, so they are both close to my heart. Cheltenham is still a result I look for and all my family still live in and around the area. It’s an opportunity to go back home.

“If it had been any other job in League Two I probably wouldn’t have taken it, but you don’t know.

“You can’t pick and choose when you get your opportunity. There’s an ideal world which doesn’t very often happen in football, but this did seem to be the right opportunity at the right time.

“The wrench is because I’m in such a good place at the minute, but I can’t sit and say: ‘what if, what if?’ I’ve got to take the plunge.”

Duff made 383 appearances for Burnley and won promotion to the Premier League three times with the Clarets, but during the final years of his playing career he was beginning to plan for a shot at management.

“Probably in the last three or four years of my career I’m probably looking at the game differently, the way the manager delivers and analysis sessions,” he said.

“I was taking notes and storing all those things because eventually I wanted to have a go at it myself.”

Duff departs Turf Moor with Sean Dyche's blessing.

“We are sorry to see Michael go, but he does so with the best wishes of everyone at Turf Moor,” said Dyche.

“He’s been a terrific servant of this club for 14 years and wants to take the next step in his career into management.

“He’s been a valuable member of the staff here after his playing days ended, and we fully respect his decision. He feels that now is the right time and we wish him every success in the role.”