New appointment is 'a real coup' for Burnley

Clarets goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer believes new appointment Fabian Otte is "a real coup for us."

Fabian Otte         Picture: Burnley FC
Fabian Otte Picture: Burnley FC

Burnley have moved to replace the long-serving Craig Mawson, after his move to Manchester United, with German Otte, 29, who will work as transition coach, in the Academy as well as assisting Mercer.

Mercer, who, since arriving as part of Brian Laws' backroom staff in January 2010, has worked with three England goalkeepers in Tom Heaton, Nick Pope and Joe Hart, said: “He will be a link between the Development Squad and the first team.

“He’s enthusiastic, wants to do well and with his qualifications and background getting him is a real coup for us.

“We have had a lot of success at first-team level with goalkeepers we have brought into the club.

“I had a chat with the gaffer and the chairman and said it would be nice if we could produce one of those through our own system.

“With the right people in the right places that will give us a better opportunity of bringing one through to get into the first team.”

Otte held discussions with Mercer and Academy Head of Coaching Ian Jones earlier this year and was a guest at Turf Moor as Pope kept a clean sheet in Burnley’s goalless draw with Arsenal at the beginning of February.

He agreed to join the Clarets and after ending a near two-year spell as goalkeeping coach to Hoffenheim’s Under-23 side, who play in the regional fourth tier of the German league, started work at the Barnfield Training Centre last week.

“Everybody has been unbelievably nice,” Otte said. “I haven’t been able to meet too many people at the club from outside the ‘bubble’ but everyone has been so welcoming.”

The current training protocols in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic have made it an unusual start.

But having led a first session with the Clarets’ senior keepers – including Northern Ireland number-one Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Adam Legzdins and last season’s Under 23 regular Lukas Jensen – Otte is delighted to have made it to the Premier League after a journey that started with a move from Germany to the United States to play in the college system.

A knee injury was to curtail Otte’s ambition of playing at the highest level, but he did return to Germany to appear in league football before spreading his wings to play and coach in New Zealand.

His first taste of English football came in the North-East with non-league outfit Blyth Spartans, while studying for a master’s degree in marketing at Newcastle University near to the home of Geordie girlfriend Chloe.

After a spell working in the Netherlands for Nike, Otte returned to New Zealand to coach within the national set-up and becoming goalkeeping coach for the women’s national team aiming for the now-postponed 2020 Olympics.

But not forgotten in Germany, Hoffenheim lured Otte back home where benefitted from two years inside the Bundesliga club working under renowned goalkeeping coach Michael Rechner before securing his move to the Clarets.

“I had a great mentor and working at Hoffenheim was a great learning curve, being part of first-team training and coaching the under-23s, who play men’s football in Germany,” Otte added.

“But we wanted to go to England, and this was the right place at the right time and I am so lucky this opportunity came up.

“This is a great league to be in. Germany has a really good culture, but English football is unique and very special.

“And the goalkeeping group at Burnley is unbelievable. All the goalkeepers in the group are very good but very different, which makes it interesting for a goalkeeping coach.

“It’s exciting to see them in training every day and I will be asking Billy to have an eye for goalkeepers like he has!

“He has had so many good ones and I will also be trying to develop our own through the younger age groups who can go on and play for the first team.

“We have Lukas who is a great kid with a bright future, and he is a candidate right there.

“We want a reputation where the best young keepers want to play for Burnley, and we can develop them and perhaps we won’t have to buy a goalkeeper anymore.”