HOMEGROWN hero Jay Rodriguez admits it was a tough decision to leave Burnley.
The 22-year-old finally completed a club record £7m switch to Premier League newcomers Southampton on Sunday, signing a four-year deal with the Saints.
But it tugged at the heartstrings of the Burnley-born youngster, a product of Barrowford Celtic and former Barden High School pupil.
He said: “I’ve been there from being 11 years old.
“The managers I’ve had there, from the centre of excellence to the youth team to my professional career have been great to me, the fans have been brilliant and all the lads I’ve met.
“It’s been a great experience for me. I can’t thank everyone enough.
“It’s obviously a sad time for me, moving away from the club, but I will always follow the club.
“They still have a place in my heart.
“Burnley’s a great club and I’ve made great memories there.”
Meanwhile, the club issued a statement following the confirmation of the deal.
“Burnley Football Club has a renowned tradition of producing talented young players, who have come through our youth system over many years.
“Jay Rodriguez started his career with Burnley at a very young age and, throughout his time here, he has been a great player and excellent ambassador for the football club.
“However, ambitious and talented young footballers want to play in the Premier League and we wish Jay every success in his career.
“His rise in prominence is evidence that here at Turf Moor, the investment in our Youth academy provides a pipeline for players to the first team.
“We have already seen the current youth team achieve tremendous success by reaching the FA Youth Cup semi finals this year, and through the club’s ongoing commitment to youth development we hope this will help to produce more players like Jay Rodriguez.”