Burnley outcast Ben Gibson on “the strangest two years of my life”

Ben Gibson admits his time at Burnley was “the strangest two years of my life”.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 6:00 am
Ben Gibson

Gibson joined the Clarets as a joint record club signing, costing £15m from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2018.

However, he only made six appearances in two seasons for the club, making only one Premier League start, before leaving the club under a cloud in February.

Following a flashpoint in training, after seeing a deadline day move to Watford fall through, Gibson was effectively banished from Barnfield, and allowed to train with former club Middlesbrough.

He has now joined Norwich City initially for a season, ahead of a permanent £8m switch should the Canaries be promoted back to the Premier League.

Gibson believes he has learned from the experience and come out better for it, but, speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, said: “It’s been the strangest two years of my life, no getting away from that, although the last six months have been the strangest of everybody’s life to be honest, given the circumstances.

“I do have to thank Middlesbrough, because, in the toughest time in my career, that time when I wasn’t training with Burnley, they were there for me.

“I’m in debt to them for what they did in that time.”

The 27-year-old was harshly sent off on only his second appearance for Burnley, in Athens against Olympiakos, and after two hernia operations, didn’t kick a ball again for the club until Boxing Day 2018, when he started against Everton in the Premier League.

He scored a debut goal, but by that stage the Clarets were 3-0 down.

He was replaced just after the hour, as Burnley lost 5-1, and he would only make three more appearances, in the cups.

Gibson points to a lack of chances to show what he can do: “I’m not going to lie, I won’t hide from it, I’m a very honest person, it’s been extremely tough.

“I signed for a lot of money, but didn’t really get many opportunities to showcase what I believe I can do.

“Football is everything to me, it’s my career, my life, some players can sit there, earn good money and keep a smile on their face, that isn’t me.

“It might be a fault, but I take football home with me. If we get beat, I’m probably not a great person to be around, and it’s 24/7 on my mind, that’s just the way I am, win or lose.

“My family have done an unbelievable job, I have a great set of people around me, they are the unsung heroes really, they do their best to keep me smiling and focussed, and my eye on the long-term goal, which I needed to have, because it’s a spell in your career I never wanted to have, but it’s happened.

“I’d never been on the bench before really, it’s been a massive learning curve.

“I feel as though I’ve dealt with it well, and I’ve controlled what I can control, made myself the best athlete I can be, I still trained hard every day, sometimes twice and three times.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself, how mentally tough and strong I am, I know the people around me and care deeply, not just when things are good, but when they get a little bit tough.

“I’m in a fantastic place to kick on.”

Asked whether he has a point to prove, Gibson added: “You’re always going to have to prove someone wrong, even coming through Middlesbrough academy, my uncle owned the club, I always thought people thought I was there because of my uncle.

“I always had to go above and beyond everyone else, work twice as hard, to be twice as good.

“Gareth Southgate used to say to me you could never get comfortable in football, because when you think you’ve cracked it, you get a smack in the face.

“That is the nature of the beast.

“It’s a chapter of my life I’ve learned a lot from, take the positives from it - I’m fresh and physically in a fantastic space - I’m that motivated, hungry and fit, and really eager to get going.

“Onwards and upwards.”