Burnley at the Euros - a short but growing history!

Matej Vydra is Burnley’s sole representative at Euro 2020 - which starts on Friday - after Nick Pope’s cruel fortune.

Saturday, 5th June 2021, 8:00 am

The teammates could have faced each other at Wembley, but Pope’s knee surgery means the Czech Republic striker is the only Claret fans can look to get behind this summer.

He will hope to add to Burnley’s short, but growing list of representatives at a European Championship Finals, however.

The last finals, in 2016 in France, was the first time a Burnley player featured in the final stages of the tournament, which dates back to 1960.

Former Clarets striker Dimi Papadopoulos kisses the European Championship trophy in 2004

The competition was played out by four nations until doubling in size in 1980, and moving to 16 countries for Euro 96, then 24 for the 2012 finals.

However, until left back Stephen Ward started for the Republic of Ireland in a 3-0 group stage defeat against Belgium in Bordeaux, no Burnley player had taken to the field.

Robbie Brady would score the all-important goal for Ireland in the final group game against Italy, and an early effort in the knockout defeat to France, but he was still six months away from joining the club.

Irish teammate Jeff Hendrick would go on to sign for Burnley that summer, coming to several clubs’ attention after a box to box display against Sweden.

Matej Vydra drives at Scotland for the Czech Republic

Tom Heaton, who became Burnley’s first England cap since Martin Dobson in 1974 in March 2016, in a warm up game against Australia, was in the Three Lions squad, but didn’t feature in the tournament - third choice keeper as Joe Hart, who would join Burnley in 2018, started all four games.

However, one Claret went further than Ward, not only playing, but scoring - a quite brilliant and important goal at that.

Striker Sam Vokes was on the bench for Wales in their quarter-final, also against Belgium, but came on as a substitute to thump in a memorable header to seal a remarkable 3-1 win in Villeneuve-d'Ascq.

Wales went on to lose their semi-final against Portugal.

Sam Vokes celebrates his header against Belgium

Like Brady, Hendrick and Hart, another future Claret was at the tournament, helping Iceland embarrass England in the last 16 in Nice, leading to Roy Hodgson resigning - Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

Iceland were likened to Burnley by FA scouts, and the winger, whose last game for Charlton was against the Clarets as Burnley sealed the Championship title, made the switch to Turf Moor after the tournament.

One former Claret, a year after leaving Turf Moor, claimed a winners medal at Euro 2004 with surprise champions Greece.

Dimi Papadopoulos, signed by Stan Ternent from Akratitos after impressing for the Under 21s against England in 2001, scored three times in 39 appearances for Burnley before joining Panathinaikos in 2003.

Stephen Ward created Burnley history against Belgium

At Euro 2004, he provided the assist for pass for Zisis Vryzas as Greece advanced from the group stage in expense of Russia and Spain, and he came on in the 1-0 win over Portugal in the final.

Later that summer, he also played in all three games for the Greece Olympic team, scoring once.

As regards other major international tournaments, the only Burnley player to have appeared for England in the final stages of the World Cup is goalkeeper Colin McDonald, who played in four games in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden - although Nick Pope was in the squad for Russia 2018, without playing.

The only other Burnley players to have appeared for any of the home nations in the final stages are Tommy Cassidy (1 game in Spain 82), Billy Hamilton (5 games, 2 goals, also in Spain) and Jimmy McIlroy (5 games in Sweden in 58).

The first Burnley player to go to a World Cup was Jock Aird, who represented Scotland in 1954.

Outside forward John Connelly and right-half Jimmy Adamson, were part of the England squad that went to the 1962 World Cup in Chile, however, they failed to make an appearance.

Connelly would, of course, play in the opening game in 1966 against Uruguay as a Manchester United player, but not feature again as Sir Alf Ramsey’s wingless wonders won the World Cup at Wembley.

Gudmundsson then made two appearances for Iceland at Russia 2018, against Argentina in their Group D opener at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow - ending a 36-year wait for a Burnley player to start at a finals, since Hamilton for Northern Ireland.

The winger also played in the 2-1 defeat to Croatia in the last group game, as Iceland were eliminated.

And in 2010 at the African Cup of Nations, Andre Bikey was a substitute in Cameroon’s final group game against Tunisia, and came on in extra time as the Indomitable Lions exited the tournament to Egypt at the quarter-final stage.