He was a player who had made over 100 starts for Chelsea and starred alongside World Cup winners Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf.

He starred in the Champions League with Leeds United and played the full 90 minutes in a memorable 1-0 win against AC Milan at Elland Road.

These are undoubtedly special accomplishments but Michael Duberry also continues to hold mightily fond memories of his time north of the border at St Johnstone.

The dominant central defender’s headline-hitting move to McDiarmid Park in the February of 2010 came as a welcome surprise to excitable Perth fans.

There was a degree of uncertainty surrounding how he would perform in Saints’ colours – he had just left Wycombe Wanderers – but obtaining his signature proved clever business.

Strong in the challenge, he quickly stole the hearts of supporters and played a key role in helping Derek McInnes further establish the club as a top-flight force.

Duberry had nothing but kind words when reminiscing about his time in Perth last week. But, almost a decade on, one game continues to haunt him.

Saints had hit the Scottish Cup semi-final heights of Hampden following a memorable run which, in particular, included a late fourth-round Peter MacDonald winner against Hearts.

Murray Davidson extends St Johnstone stay

Victories against Partick Thistle and then Brechin City set-up a wonderful opportunity in a last-four clash with Motherwell on April 16, 2011.

Supporters kitted out in blue and white travelled in great numbers but the scarves flying high pre-match were soon being used to shield eyes from the unfolding action.

With only 40 minutes played the giant, flashing scoreboard told its own story: Motherwell 3, St Johnstone 0.

“The semi-final defeat still haunts me,” Duberry told the PA. “The manner we lost haunts me to this day. There was no way we were that much worse than them.

“Personal memories, I don’t think Sammy [Colin Samuel] should’ve played. I don’t think he was honest with everyone in saying he was fit. There wasn’t three goals difference between the teams.

“In my head, the night before, it was to be part of history and get to a cup final.”

While that cup final eluded Duberry, comfort did arrive three years later when he watched some of his former team-mates lift the trophy on a historic day at Celtic Park.

The 2-0 win against Dundee United brought a smile to his face.

“It didn’t happen for me but I’m just glad some of my team-mates who played on that day went on to make history for the club,” said Duberry.

“I was buzzing that the club got to a cup final and won. I messaged Cuptie [Dave Mackay] the other day on social media and I always look out for the lads.

“I thought Cuptie was a brilliant player, so cool and calm. Quite the opposite of Ando! It was brilliant to see them lifting the cup.”

The 2014 cup heroics emphasised just how successful the often underestimated team from Perth had become. “The club started having a culture and standard of success,” Duberry remembers.

“It wasn’t just about being in the top-flight, it was about wanting top-six every year. Otherwise, it’s not good enough.

“And push for more and push for more. Can we break the top four? Expectations were there. Players like Anderson, Mackay, Davidson and Craig – the culture is instilled in them. Anyone coming in had to at minimum be like that and strive for more.

“It’s a league where you need quality and you can’t compete with the players Rangers and Celtic bring in. But Saints got players who could do a great job and mix with the top players. The club haven’t been silly in holding onto these players.”

Duberry may not have played anywhere near as many games as some of the aforementioned club legends, the likes of Anderson, Mackay and Craig. But the instant rapport he had with the fans was unique and he remains thankful for that.

“The other day someone put up my last game at St Mirren,” said Duberry. “I’ve never had that send-off in my whole football career from any club or fans.

“I was just honest in how I played. What you saw is what you got. I would go win a ball and didn’t really take any s**t.

“I gave 100 per cent and I think that is how the fans in the stand want someone to represent their club. Give us your best.

“They weren’t expecting a Franco Baresi or someone who pings it 60 yards.  They got a defender who could defend and smash a forward.

“You had an intimate relationship with the fans. You would come out the ground and people would be waiting. You’d go round town for a bit of lunch and would speak to them.”

When football does return to a sense of normality, you can guarantee Duberry will be keeping close tabs on Saints’ progress.

He said: “Everyone always asks is my team Rangers or Celtic? I just look at them with a frown and say St Johnstone. It’s my club and I have fond
memories.

“It was a great time for me and it proved a brilliant decision to go up there.”

DUBERRY HAILS RECORD APPEARANCE HOLDER STEVEN ANDERSON

There was something refreshing about coming into a club and playing alongside a young “throwback” defender.

Duberry always enjoyed going into battle with Steven Anderson – a player he describes as hard as nails and someone with a pure desire to keep clean sheets.

Anderson’s time is up at Saints after a mightily impressive 16-year service which included helping return the club to the top-flight, European nights and that Scottish Cup win.

He was never one for basking in the glory and simply wanted to give his all to help his team-mates and club.

Duberry certainly remembers that and said: “I thought he was tough as nails and would put his head in anywhere.

“Off the field he was very funny and always up for a laugh. I really liked Ando. In this day and age everyone wants to be attack-minded, going forward and spraying the ball 60 yards. But he was a throwback defender.

“He loved stopping people scoring, keeping clean sheets and defending.

“He was from that generation of defenders. I thought we did really well together. He could hold his own and people wouldn’t take liberties with him because they couldn’t.

“He could smash a few - there were a few rash tackles - but he’d warn people off. Playing alongside him, I thought we got on well. He was willing to learn and took instructions well.

“I’ve kept an eye and he developed into a leadership role himself. With 16 years you expect that.”

Duberry always felt Saints had a solid unit with the likes of Anderson, Dave Mackay and Danny Grainger.

“It was Cuptie at right back, Danny Grainger left back then me and Ando,” he said. “I thought we had one of the best defences in the league.

“We were solid all round and if you scored against us, you had to be doing really well.”