New Luton defender Burke wants another crack at the Premier League

Centre half knew it would be a tough path back to the top

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 6:00 am
New Town signing Reece Burke

Luton defender Reece Burke is determined to become a top flight player once more, during his time with the Hatters if possible.

The 24-year-old has five Premier League appearances to his name for hometown club West Ham United after making his debut in a 0-0 draw at QPR back in April 2015, when aged just 19.

He went on to start another three times, coming off the bench once as well, before a number of loan spells ahead of his departure, in a £1.5m transfer to Hull City in July 2018.

After racking up over 100 games for the Tigers, Burke decided to join Luton on a free transfer last week and has made it clear he wants to be back amongst the elite once more, saying: “I only played five games but I had a taste of what the Premier League was like.

“It is where I want to be and that set me up to get my loan moves and get more first-team games under my belt.

“From then until now, I’m a better footballer but there is a pathway to get back to the top.

“Coming here, that is what I want. I want to be pushed, I want to be worked hard and I’m sure Nathan (Jones) and the coaching staff are going to do that.

“On my side, it’s working hard on and away from the training ground and pushing myself on.

“I’m hungry and I’m going to give myself every opportunity to get to the top.”

The ups and downs of Burke’s career on the pitch will certainly stand him in good stead too.

He has experienced relegation twice already, before a title-winning season with the Tigers last term, as he knew there would always be bumps along the way to achieving his goal.

Town’s second signing of the summer continued: “It’s very rare that to get to top it’s going to be a straight route.

“You’ll have ups and downs and that’s the way my career has gone.

“I played five games in the Premier League, then went on loan to League One (Bradford City), I came back, went on loan to the Championship (Wigan) and had a bad season, getting injured.

“Wigan got relegated, then I went to Bolton, managed to stay up, then moved to Hull City, had a very good season with them, but then we got relegated and bounced back.

“The pathway is never going to be straightforward, but that’s what makes you a better player.”

Burke is one of a growing number of players at the Hatters and clubs further down the footballing echelon who have had to leave the top flight in an attempt to get back there.

Team-mates Dan Potts and Elliot Lee both have Premier League games under their belts, while Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was also at Upton Park, although didn’t feature in the league, with striker Elijah Adebayo at Fulham until he dropped into League Two in the hunt for first team football.

On the mental strength moving away to realise his dream has given him, Burke said: “In this day and age, if you’re not mentally strong I don’t think you’ll go as far.

“You’ve got to back yourself and I always say, don’t worry about what people think, just focus on yourself because as soon as you start worrying about what’s happening elsewhere, you’re going to get distracted.

“I’ve always got that aim to push on and get to the very top.

"I know what I’ve got to do to get there and I think I’m at the club now that, in the next few years, that will hopefully get me there.

“If not, then maybe I need to accept that I’ll be a good Championship centre half, but there’ll be a stage where I won’t stop trying.”

On why he chose Luton as the club to give him the best chance of reaching the top flight again, Burke said: “If you look at the likes of Pottsy for example, because I know he has been at Luton for a while, from where he started off to where he is now, it is a big step.

“You can see the way the club is going, in terms of pushing on and becoming bigger.

“Obviously what is going on in and around the training ground, something is right for the club to be able to push on like that.

“That is what people should see from the outside, people don’t think about what happened previously it is all about what is happening now.

"For me, I have seen the club come from the lower leagues to where they are now and I believe they will keep pushing on because of what is going on in and around the football club, that is what appeals to me.

“That is why I decided to leave West Ham, as I had a few loan moves and then I kept going back there.

“I just knew my time playing in the Premier League wasn’t going to come, I could just sense that.

“That is why I decided to go to Hull City in the first place, I still had two years on my contract there but I decided to leave because I wanted to be the main man at Hull City because I’m all about games.

“I just want to play football, I don’t want to be at a club and not playing football.

“Don’t get me wrong it will frustrate me but you have to be driven at the end of the day and earn your right to play.

“In terms of what you see outside of the football club, all I see is good things about Luton and that is what I want to be a part of, I want to be part of the next step.”