Kevin Long - Burnley's longest serving player - looks back on 11 years at Turf Moor!

Burnley defender Kevin Long has never over-questioned, over-analysed or over-complicated his role at the club.

Kevin Long (L) of Burnley in action with James Hayter of Yeovil during the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Yeovil Town at Turf Moor on August 17, 2013 in Burnley, England
Kevin Long (L) of Burnley in action with James Hayter of Yeovil during the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Yeovil Town at Turf Moor on August 17, 2013 in Burnley, England

But the 30-year-old centre back's status as the longest-serving player at Turf Moor should never be downplayed.

Long has now been at the club for 11 years having arrived at the turn of 2010 when Owen Coyle lured him over from Cork City.

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Despite encountering a multitude of challenges, the Republic of Ireland international has stood the test of time.

Kevin Long of Burnley (28) scores their third goal during the FA Cup with Budweiser Third round match between Southampton and Burnley at St Mary's Stadium on January 4, 2014 in Southampton, England.

Many in his position wouldn't. That's testament to his laudable character. "It's a strange one," he said. "You don't really see it in football too much these days.

"To be here this long is something that I'm proud of and I want to continue trying to achieve more.

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"I've loved every minute of it. Getting promoted, staying in the Premier League, being involved in the side that finished seventh was brilliant, there have been so many good moments it's hard to choose."

Long's professionalism over the course of a decade-and-a-bit has been exemplary, even though his journey since relinquishing his part time hours at Turners Cross has been as choppy as the Celtic Sea at times.

Kevin Long of Burnley receives treatment during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St James' Park on January 1, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

There have been countless loan moves, which he'd later come to appreciate and value, constant battles to heighten his rank in the pecking order and some not-so-pleasant injury setbacks.

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He has, however, taken everything on with a smile. "Each and every thing that has happened in my career are all experiences that I've learned from," said Long, who recently signed a new two-year deal with the Clarets.

"If something bad happens I'll always look back on it and try to learn from it. I just take each day as it comes, I don't look too far into the future.

"I've signed a contract and I'm delighted with it. There's a lot of uncertainty in football at the moment so I'm delighted to be at Burnley for another couple of years.

Burnley's Irish defender Kevin Long (L) and Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford (R) vie for the ball during the English Premier League football match at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2017.
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"I just want to keep giving my all for the club and see where it gets me. In a couple of years we'll probably have another look at it and we'll see what happens then."

Long's professional debut didn't exactly go to plan, either.

He survived just 17 minutes of his professional debut when on loan at Accrington Stanley as he was given his marching orders for bringing down Rotherham United's Adam Le Fondre inside the box.

To make matters worse, the Millers striker picked himself up to convert the penalty to draw the visitors level. Stanley went on to lose the game 3-2.

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Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur shoots under pressure from Kevin Long of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on October 26, 2020 in Burnley, England.

He had given himself a proverbial mountain to climb but, as Coyle would have put it, the Irishman refused to 'mump and moan' about it.

Instead, he became the master of his own destiny. Long learned from his mistakes, trained hard, carried himself in the right manner and moved forwards.

In the end he would go on to embellish his development with temporary spells at Rochdale, Portsmouth, Barnsley and MK Dons. It was all part of the curriculum.

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For the first five years I was out on loan learning my trade because when I first came over to England I had been pretty much part-time in Ireland.

"I wasn't training as much so when I came over I needed a lot of those loan spells to get that full-time training into, which would help me develop as a player.

"Having grown up in Ireland all you really know is the Premier League," he said. "Burnley were there at the time I came over and all of a sudden there were talks about me going out on loan to League One and League Two.

French forward Kylian Mbappe (L) vies Irish defender Kevin Long (R) during the friendly football match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France stadium, in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, on May 28, 2018.
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"At the time I'd only played about 15 games for Cork City and before that I had only been playing football with my mates.

"But back then I didn't really understand what it was all about, I thought I was coming to join a Premier League club, but they helped massively in my career.

"That shows how naive I was as a young lad. Those spells helped massively with my development and they were needed."

He added: "For me there's nothing like playing games. You can get the coaching in training sessions, but it's getting out and playing the games where you learn from experiences.

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"I was sent off in my first game for Accrington Stanley after 17 minutes and I gave away a penalty. I didn't get off to the best start!

"Each and every thing that has happened in my career are all experiences that I've learned from. If something bad happens I'll always look back on it and try to learn from it."

Long has had some serious competition over the years.

Andre Bikey, Steven Caldwell, Michael Duff, Clarke Carlisle, David Edgar, Jason Shackell, Michael Keane, Ben Mee and James Tarkowski provide quite a striking collage of what he's been up against.

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Understandably, with the club operating in the upper echelons throughout his stay, the talent pool defensively has been outstanding.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Long has made more appearances in the league for other clubs than he has for Burnley.

But the defender - to his credit - remains admirably pragmatic. Despite his longest run in the side only stretching to seven games - which came at the back end of the 2017/18 campaign - he said: "At the end of the day it's my job.

"I can't pick the team, that's down to the manager. It's as simple as that. It's my job so I've got to train right, I've got to prepare right, I've got to do everything I can for the team.

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"If the manager doesn't pick me then there's nothing I can do about that, but if he does pick me then I'll try my best and give 100%. That's all I can do. I'll keep giving my best every day, no matter what!"

He added: "Since the manager has come in here, with him being a defender himself in the past, he's got an eye for a centre-half.

"We've had some quality ones through the years, which doesn't help when I'm trying to get a game, but it has been brilliant for the club.

"It has gone from strength to strength and the lads that I've played with have been brilliant so I can't complain. All I can do is keep working hard and when that opportunity comes I'll give it my best.

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"The quality in the group has been brilliant. I've tried to learn a little bit from all the centre-backs that have been here over the years.

"The quality in those training groups helps you improve. The training is intense everyday and that's the way we like it and that's how you're going to improve as a player, by giving 100% against quality players every day."

Long has had to be patient and understanding from the very beginning. Nothing has changed in that respect. The first of his 61 league appearances for

Burnley came more than two-and-a-half years after his arrival.And his first start for the club came three months after that 3-3 draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

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This time it was a stalemate against Dyche's previous employers Watford at Turf Moor when Charlie Austin's spot kick cancelled out Nathaniel Chalobah's opener.

The centre back continued to tick off milestone after milestone - including his first goal in an FA Cup tie at Southampton seven years ago - but disaster struck when the moment of his bow in the top flight finally came around.

Playing in the Premier League was something that he'd dreamed about since being a boy. However, just 20 minutes after his introduction against Newcastle United at St James's Park, Long suffered the most harrowing injury.

Long ruptured his cruciate knee ligament, which set him back more than 18 months.

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"It was a difficult one," he said. "My aim having moved over originally was to play in the Premier League and then, when you do get your chance, you pick up a bad injury.

"I was out for a year without any football. It was difficult, but I think I'm pretty strong mentally. I don't think it affected me too much.

"I just wanted to have the operation and get back in the gym so I could get back as quickly as I could. At the time Dean Marney was out with the same injury so we were helping each other out.

"There were two of us going through the same thing so we could work with each other. That was pretty good for me.

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"I had a taste of it, albeit very short, but that's where I wanted to be.

"When you're doing your rehab you work that extra bit harder and do those extra reps to try and get back as quickly as possible. I wanted to get back to that level where I knew I could be."

Long's attitude and application during his rehabilitation mirrored the way in which he'd always acquitted himself at The Barnfield Training Centre.

He approached it head on, with the same staunchness that had helped him overcome so many hurdles previously.

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And he got his reward. On Saturday, May 6th, 2017, Long made his first Premier League start in a home game against West Brom.

He said: "It was brilliant. As a young, naive Irish lad all I knew was the Premier League. All I wanted to do was to play in the Premier League.

"The Championship, League One, League Two were all brilliant for my career, but, like any footballer, all I wanted to do was play at the highest level.

"To make my debut in the Premier League was a brilliant achievement.

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"Maybe in a few years, when I retire, I'll look back at it and remember those moments with pride.

"When you're involved and training every day it's hard to sit back and just relax. You just want to keep striving for more."

From that point the good news kept on coming. Martin O'Neill handed Long his first international call up just days later.

He featured in a 3-1 friendly win over Uruguay that summer and then added to his first cap when partnering Shane Duffy in a World Cup qualifier against Austria at the Aviva Stadium.

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"Representing my country was something I didn't think was possible, but playing for Burnley in the Premier League made it possible," Long said.

"Every person dreams of representing their country and I've done that, I'm so proud of it. It's brilliant!

"I would love to go to a major tournament with Ireland so hopefully we can make that possible. Other than that I just want to keep improving as a player and keep learning."