Jay’s Back

Burnley-born Jay Rodriguez has returned home after the Clarets swooped to sign the striker from West Bromwich Albion.

The 29-year-old, who began his career within the Academy at Turf Moor, has signed a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee, with further one-year option.

The move completes the circle for Rodriguez, who left for Southampton in 2012 in a then record deal, having scored 41 goals in 129 appearances during his first spell with Burnley and earned England U21 recognition.

Rodriguez also earned a full England cap in 2013, when he appeared for the Three Lions against Chile at Wembley Stadium.

And after putting pen to paper on his new deal, bringing to an end his two-year spell with the Baggies, Sean Dyche’s second summer signing flew to Portugal on Monday evening to join fellow new boy Erik Pieters and the rest of the Clarets squad. 

The Burnley fans’ love affair with ‘one of their own’ was instant, from the moment the rookie front-man graduated through the ranks to make the Burnley first team in 2007.

Following a loan spell with Stirling Albion in the second half of the season, he scored his first Burnley goal by grabbing the winner against Fulham in the League Cup in September, 2008.

The goals soon flowed, although Rodriguez was used sparingly during the Clarets’ first foray into the Premier League in 2009, following promotion via the play-off final at Wembley where Rodriguez appeared as a late substitution.

However, following relegation back to the Championship, Rodriguez spearheaded the Clarets attack, and scored 15 times in the 2010-11 campaign and landing both the Player and Players’ Player of the Year awards.

The following season, he scored 21 goals in total and won a place in the PFA Championship team of the year and made his England U21 debut against Italy.

By now, however, his goalscoring exploits had attracted a number of admirers and he became the Clarets then record sale when he was lured to newly-promoted Premier League side Southampton in the summer of 2012.

He scored 35 goals in five seasons on the south coast, where a serious knee injury ruled him out of a shot at the World Cup in 2014 and sidelined him for over a year.

In the summer of 2017, he was again on the move to WBA in a four-year deal, where his goalscoring exploits brought 33 goals in 84 appearances, including 22 goals in the 2018/19 season to help Albion make the Championship play-offs.

Now, Rodriguez is back where it all began, reigniting a love affair with his hometown club as Burnley gear up for a fourth successive season in the Premier League.

|Words: Darren Bentley |Photo: Alex Redmond/Burnley Football Club

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