Club record signing Andre Gray is in line for his Burnley debut tomorrow at Bristol City – having last week turned down a move to Ashton Gate.
The 24-year-old agreed a £6m switch from Brentford last Friday, and admits it “may be a little bit” awkward facing Steve Cotterill’s Robins.
But Gray, like with his record move, is taking everything in his stride.
He admitted: “It’s Sod’s Law that we played Brentford the day after I signed, and then we’ve got Bristol.
“I’m not bothered though, it’s football.
“I’ll probably get a few boos and jeers but it’s part of the game!”
The Wolverhampton-born frontman hopes there are no hard feelings, however, insisting it was purely a career choice to choose Burnley ahead of Bristol: “My decision was never going to be made on speaking to one club.
“It was a career factor and not just getting out of Brentford.
“It would have been frustrating for Bristol as much as it was for me.
“I spoke to them, but I hope they didn’t take it personally and I hope they understood that it was my career more than anything.
“That’s no disrespect to Bristol and saying I couldn’t do well there, but it wasn’t just my decision, it was talking to the closest people to me and this is the decision I came to.
“I respect Bristol, they came up with a lot of money for me and showed massive interest in me and I can’t thank them enough for that, but the best decision for me and my career was to come here.”
Gray already has a goal to his name at Ashton Gate this season, netting for the Bees in a 4-2 win a fortnight ago.
And he has also already experienced a Sean Dyche teamtalk, having scored at Blackburn Rovers in March, after the Clarets boss was asked to address the Brentford players by then-manager Mark Warburton.
Gray explained: “He just came in and shared his advice about how they did it the season before, getting into the Premier League.
“Brentford and Burnley were very similar in not having a massive budget and spending ‘X’ amount of money on the whole team.
“We were in a similar situation and he gave his honest advice about what gave them that extra push, and I think it helped.”
Gray is one of a number of players who have dropped into non league, only to show they can prosper at a high level – with former Clarets Charlie Austin and Danny Ings showing what is possible.
Gray was released by Shrewsbury Town after five appearances, and went to Hinckley United, before joining Luton in the Conference, and Brentford last summer.
And he said: “It’s there to see that it can be done and I’ll never give up that hope.
“It hasn’t really had chance to sink in, what’s happened in the last two or three years.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but I prefer not having time to think and just get on with things. When I went to Luton I thought ‘I’ve got a chance now’ and I managed to kick on from there.
“The dream became more of a reality in the first season, then the second season, and then going to Brentford.
“Every step I’ve taken has made it more realistic for me.”
Austin, famously, was a bricklayer while playing non league, but Gray only ever considered a career in football: “I went two or three months without a club and ended up going back to Hinckley, where I’d been on loan while I was at Shrewsbury.
“I had no choice. And at the time I wasn’t too fussed about it. But then reality did start to kick in and I just got my head down and went from there.
“It was always football really. I had good people around me who just kept pushing me and pushing me.
“When I realised myself that I’ve got to do it, it was easy for me.”
And while he knows it is up to him to succeed at Burnley, he feels he can only improve and develop working under Dyche and alongside the players already at the club: “I’ve still got a lot to learn, I still need to be coached I think.
“If I got left and didn’t learn and stayed where I am, maybe I wouldn’t progress as much as I think I can by coming here and working with the coaches and the players.
“I’ll give my all for this club. I’ve got real hunger and desire to succeed here and live up to that pricetag. I don’t think they’ve got to worry about that aspect.”