When the Clarets faced Manchester United in August defender Michael Keane was named in Louis Van Gaal’s 18-man squad.
That fixture, coincidentally, proved to be the end of the 22-year-old’s extensive affiliation with the club as he made his loan switch to Turf Moor around 30 hours after Chris Foy’s whistle had culminated the 0-0 draw.
But it was the game prior to that with which the England Under 21 international reflects on with particular significance. It was Tuesday, August 26th, in a 4-0 defeat to League One outfit MK Dons in the Capital One Cup, that Keane believes changed the course of his career.
Brentford loanee Will Grigg bagged a brace on the night before his replacement Benik Afobe - now with Wolves in the Championship - equalled the Northern Ireland international’s tally.
Keane, who partnered Jonny Evans in the heart of United’s defence that evening, said: “These things can happen in football. It was a bad day for all of United but it’s one of them things. A lot of players moved on but had the result been different, then things could’ve been different for some of the players, if not all of them. But it’s one of those things and you have to move on.
“We analysed it like every game and went through all the mistakes and what went wrong. Louis van Gaal does it every game so it wasn’t like he went for you just because of that game. A lot of players were disappointed with how they played that night but it was a collective thing rather than going for individuals.
“I feel that when you play for United you don’t get too many chances and when you do you’ve got to take them. But the whole team didn’t perform that day - it wasn’t just one or two players. I was gutted for a few days afterwards and I was really disappointed in myself but I was hopeful I’d get another chance. It didn’t happen.”
There was no forceful hand that prompted Keane’s exit from Old Trafford, it was merely a signal of ambition from the young defender and a willingness to play games that led to him joining the Clarets on a permanent basis last month.
Ahead of tonight’s return to the Theatre of Dreams, Keane said: “I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I was there long enough and proved what I could do there. If I had more opportunity to play I could’ve showed it more but I’ve got nothing to prove at all and hopefully I’ve proved what I can do here.
“It was a big decision to leave as when I went on loan I’d have got games there, so I was a bit gutted and disappointed and when I made it permanent, while I was really happy to get the opportunity to do that there was a little bit of you that’s disappointed you’ve not made it at United.
“I played a few games and obviously MK Dons didn’t go well but I felt if I stayed I’d have got more chances but at the time I wasn’t to know. I felt if I had got more games I could’ve proved myself there but I came here and got the games eventually. If I’d gone have back to United I’d have been sat on bench and with the money they’ve got they’ll probably sign one or two centre halves in summer, so I’d have been further down the pecking order.
He added: “I was enjoying it there but the main thing was game time and I wasn’t getting it at the start of season. Coming to Burnley has helped me get that so it was the right decision. It was too good an opportunity to turn down here.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I was there 11 years and have a lot of friends there. All my family will be there and a lot of my mates have season tickets there so I’ll have them all over the stadium.”