Burnley FC boss hails Graham Alexander’s fantastic achievement

Graham Alexander celebrates his 1000th apperance as a professional football player as a subsititute late on in the game with his wife Karen, son Calum (14) and twin daughters Caitlin (11) and Eden (11).
Graham Alexander celebrates his 1000th apperance as a professional football player as a subsititute late on in the game with his wife Karen, son Calum (14) and twin daughters Caitlin (11) and Eden (11).

CLARETS boss Eddie Howe hailed “a fantastic achievement” after club captain Graham Alexander racked up his 1,000 senior career appearance on Saturday.

The 39-year-old replaced Chris Eagles after 87 minutes in the 2-1 win over Swansea City at Turf Moor to join an elite club.

Only former Scunthorpe United teammate Tony Ford and goalkeepers Pat Jennings, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence have passed four figures in English football history, and Howe feels that fact marks the milestone as something quite remarkable: “I think you can only judge it by how many people have done it. There aren’t many.

“I think it’s a fantastic achievement.

“He’s still an exceptional player, you can see that in training.

“He has a fantastic attitude and he’s a fantastic guy to have around the changing room and at the club.

“Full credit to him, he deserves the achievement.

“I know he’s been aware of it and I’ve been aware of it for a while and I’m just pleased that he’s done it and he can look back at a fantastic career.”

Asked whether he can look forward, with Alexander still boasting a great desire to continue playing, Howe added: “There is, he displays that every day in training.

“I’d love to say the season will go beyond the five games that we have left, and who knows.”

But Howe has been thoroughly impressed with Alexander’s professionalism and attitude - which has contributed greatly to his longevity in the game: “Not knowing him coming to the club, you hear a lot of stories throughout football about what a good pro he is, but it’s only when you work with him that you realise how dedicated a pro he is to his profession.

“He trains the same every single day, which is why he’s had the career that he’s had. He’s a fantastic professional who looks after himself.

“I remember walking past the massage room on a Friday and he wasn’t starting on the Saturday, but he was still having a massage at 9-30 at night to prepare himself the best possible way.

“It’s little things like that that really make the difference and stand him out from the rest.

“Why he’s still playing now is down to how he’s looked after himself and his dedication to the sport.”

Meanwhile, the win over promotion hopefuls Swansea, couple with a draw for Leeds and defeats for Nottingham Forest, Millwall and Leicester, mean the Clarets moved to within five points of a play-off place, with a game in hand at home to Middlesbrough tonight.

Howe wants his side to try and win all five of their remaining games, and try and see where it takes them: “Football can change so quickly. One minute you think you’re well out of it, the next minute you’re back in with a shout.

“A lot depends on the Middlesbrough game. It’s a big game for us an we want to try to win all our remaining games to give us an opportunity.”

Burnley go into the game having ended a run of six without a win - coming from a goal down to beat Swansea.

It was the seventh time the Clarets have come from behind to win this season - with the side earning a Championship best 26 points from losing positions.

Howe feels that shows the character and spirit within the dressing room: “It’s fantastic. It shows real character and heart.

“With the bad run that we’ve been on, to respond the way we did and keep our heads I thought it was terrific.

“The substitutes did well, which is always pleasing, and we’ve turned it round and won a game, and hopefully we can look forward now.”

• THE PFA’s Championship team of the season was named on Sunday night: Paddy Kenny (QPR); Kyle Naughton (Leicester), Wes Morgan (Nottingham Forest), Ashley Williams (Swansea), Ian Harte (Reading); Scott Sinclair (Swansea), Adel Taarabt (QPR), Andy King (Leicester), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich); Danny Graham (Watford), Grant Holt (Norwich).