'˜I'll look back on this as the happiest time of my career' says Arfield
Scott Arfield is a shining beacon of Burnley’s success under Sean Dyche over the past five years, and the midfielder couldn’t have hoped for anything more from his stay at Turf Moor.
A return to music could have been on the cards had the Clarets chief not taken a chance on the former Huddersfield Town man, but, 194 appearances, 22 goals and two promotions later, Arfield can leave with his head held high.
The 29-year-old, who sang lead vocals in four-piece indie band The Begbies, before being encouraged to ditch the microphone by Eddie May eight years ago, arrived at the club as a free agent.
“It’s amazing, I don’t think anybody could have envisaged how well it would go. In years to come I’ll look back on this as the happiest time of my career.
“When you look back at that time and then coming to here, you could never imagine where this club has gone and where my career has gone.
“I think the club has been better to me than I’ve been to the club, but I still feel as if I’ve given a lot to the club over the years.”
He’s not wrong. The free agent missed just two league games in his first three seasons at Burnley, starting every fixture throughout the 2015/16 campaign as the Clarets were promoted to the Premier League for a second time during Dyche’s reign, this time as champions having gone 23 games unbeaten.
“The happiest I’ve probably been is the promotion season, the second time we did it, when we won the league,” he said. “The first time we went up second, it was more of a bonus.
“The second one, to handle the expectation, I got back in the house after that game and I just felt so much more satisfied than the first one, so looking back I think that was the perfect one.”
Since Arfield’s first goal against York City in a League Cup tie at Bootham Crescent, the Clarets have only lost once when he’s been on the scoresheet.
That came against Chelsea under the lights at Turf Moor when he netted a stunning opener on Burnley’s return to the top flight in August 2014.
In total the Clarets accumulated 51 points in the 20 games that Arfield scored in, including the winner against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in October 2015 that will live long in the memory.
“I’ve got loads of highlights, to be honest,” he said. “There’s the Chelsea goal, the Blackburn goal, Liverpool goal, there’s loads to look at.
“To go away to Blackburn and win 1-0 and score the only goal of the game was definitely for the fans.
“I’ve got a great relationship with the fans as well and I think that showed.
“I lost my head for a minute and I think everyone who was there knows what an amazing day that was.
“It was a privilege to be a part of that game.”
Arfield, who went on to become a Canada international, a salute to his father’s place of birth, and a result of the unfathomable neglect suffered at the hands of Scotland, featured in just under half of Burnley’s schedule this term and certainly left his mark.
Though he hasn’t been involved since a 1-0 defeat to Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in February, his goals against Liverpool at Anfield and against Watford have contributed to the club’s best top flight finish since 1974.
That means the Clarets will play in the Europa League next season, a competition that Falkirk gained entry to during Arfield’s days with the Bairns.
It’s been some journey since Arfield boarded the bus as one of Dyche’s first summer signings in 2013 but he’s finally come to the end of the road with his ride terminating against AFC Bournemouth on the final day of the term.
Next stop - Rangers. “It’s a new challenge,” said Arfield. “It’s time to get off the bus, I’ve been on it for so long. You see players who have stayed at a club for too long and it becomes a bit of a struggle.
“It’s perfect timing for me to move and for the club to move on, it’s different expectations and different challenges, it’s time to get stimulated again.
“I saw Leon Britton leaving Swansea, that whole game is nothing for what an amazing player Leon has been.
“For this to be on this, leaving in seventh, for me to come out here and say cheerio when everyone is in high spirits, it’s an amazing time.
“I count myself lucky for what the boys have done since I’ve been out of the team as well.
“The rise of this club, where it has gone to.
“I’ve not much done in the last four or five months, full credit to the boys, they’ve put in an unbelievable shift and getting this club to Europe is remarkable.
“I think it can go further.
“You look at Leicester winning the league a couple of years, Burnley getting into Europe, there’s a success story every year and you never know where that is going to go.”