Fulham Focus’ Daniel Smith spoke to former Fulham defender Cameron Burgess about his time at the club. The academy graduate broke into the first team vs Ipswich Town in our first game post-relegation from the Premier League. Cameron shared his thoughts of his debut, Magath, the Youth Cup Final and his Fulham experience in general…
DS – Hi Cameron, thanks for agreeing to do this!
CB – No problem, the website looks good so I’m happy to do a Q&A for you.
DS – Thank you. Let’s start off with how the move to Fulham came about, did you have any other offers?
CB – Through contacts and things in Australia. There were some lads coming to England from the same youth team, we had a few trials lined up. I didn’t make it to them all as I was asked to stay longer at Fulham and I managed to get offered a contract after the second week.
DS – Did you have any role models in the game growing up and was there anyone in the first team that you looked up to?
CB – Growing up my role models were probably Steven Gerrard as a player overall and in my position, I used to change my opinion all the time. I liked different aspects of lots of players games. There were too many growing up to just pick one. In the first team when I was in the youth team at Fulham, I really looked up to Damien Duff and Philippe Senderos. They were amazing professionals, and both always made time for us younger lads and helped us out when we got the chance to train with the first team.
DS – How much of an impact did Steve Wigley and Kit Symons have over your development? How did their styles differ?
CB – I wouldn’t say their styles differed a whole lot. It was all about playing the right way and doing whatever it took in any particular game to win. Training was always enjoyable under both and they both put lots of things in place on the training pitch to improve me as a player right from the start of my time at Fulham. I would definitely add other coaches into that during my time at Fulham as I truly believe I couldn’t have had a better youth experience as a footballer anywhere else.
DS – What was your highlight during the FA youth cup campaign when we reached the final?
CB – I would have to say the journey as a whole, getting as far as we could, was definitely our goal for the season and I’m still gutted to this day that we let that lead slip and couldn’t get our hands on the trophy. That would have topped off my youth team experience, playing with some great players.
DS – Taking yourself out of the equation, which player in that youth side did you expect to go onto the biggest things over their careers and why?
CB – There wasn’t a player in that squad that I didn’t expect to go on and do great things in their careers but we all know that isn’t always possible. I would have to say Emerson Hyndman was that one player to go on to the biggest things. He was and still is such an intelligent player and he made our team tick a lot of the time.
DS – When did you find out that you were playing in our first game post-relegation vs Ipswich? How did you feel about playing in midfield?
CB – In terms of getting in the squad it was made clear by Felix Magath that it didn’t matter what our age was, we always had a chance. So that was my goal during pre-season, to get in that first squad of the season. In terms of starting the game, I didn’t find out until the morning of the game in my hotel room. The boss came to mine and Emerson’s room to tell us we were starting and what he expected of us. He managed to keep us so relaxed too which was amazing. I enjoyed playing that game in midfield although I was so pumped up for it there’s not much about the game that I can remember apart from when I have watched it back. I loved every minute of it. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t get a result on the day.
DS – Did you ever think you would be making your senior career debut alongside someone as big in the game as Scott Parker?
CB – Never in a million years. Scotty was amazing with us even when we weren’t getting the right results. He always did things the way he knew they should be done and held all the lads together. He was so influential in our team and I’m proud to say that I have lined up alongside a player as big as him in the professional game.
DS – What was the biggest change from playing youth team football to being thrown into the first team?
CB – The intelligence of the players is on another level. There are so many tricks that all these top players have to come out on top that people don’t see! The speed was controlled to what it needed to be, the standard was obviously very high, and the physicality was on another level from the youth team. There’s nothing that can really prepare you from that step up but it’s also one of the best experiences in the world in my opinion.
DS – What was Magath like and was he more understanding with the likes of yourself, Hyndman and Dembele being so young when we started the 2014/15 season so badly?
CB – He was amazing with us young lads, from my point of view. He helped us to relax and enjoy ourselves. He never let our young age stop us from getting a chance to play. That day I made my debut he said that he was going to play me in midfield and not to worry about mistakes my place was safe for the next week because I was doing a job for the team and it was a tactical decision based on the way Ipswich played. I can’t explain enough how much that helped me. He is a very experienced manager and although it didn’t work out for him at Fulham, I owe him a lot and learned a lot from him too.
DS – Did it hurt your confidence playing in a struggling team at such a young inexperienced age?
CB – It would have been amazing to have been winning but on a confidence front I wouldn’t say it hurt because it means a lot to be picked as a young player in a team that wasn’t winning. So that was confidence in itself I guess.
DS – Were you and the lads all envious of Liam Donnelly’s beard? Crazy for a kid to have so much facial hair!
CB – I always used to get on to him for not growing it as big as Mile Jedinak has because he could definitely do it. So I would have to say, yes, I was definitely jealous! Haha.
DS – Who were your closest mates at the club, who did you room with both for the academy and the first team and do you keep in touch with anyone?
CB – We were all close as a team and most of us used to live close by in digs. I don’t think there was a day after training that I wasn’t with Liam Donnelly, Dean O’Halloran and Emerson Hyndman so I would have to say I was closest with them. We used to be around some of the older lads at times too like Marcus Bettinelli, Ryan Williams and Jack Grimmer. It was always quite a tight-knit group but those 3 at the top I was always around.
I used to room with Emerson from the youth team and into the first team too. We would play Football Manager all the time until Deano and Liam turned up messing about! I keep in touch with all the lads, we are all on social media, so we can see what each other is up to. They are all a huge part of me growing up away from home and I’ll never forget those memories that’s for sure!
DS – What are your ambitions for your career? Do you set yourself goals or do you take each year as it comes?
CB – Of course I have my goals, both short term and long term. Short term is to improve and perform consistently and rack up as many games as I possibly can. Then longer term to gain promotion and play in the highest league I possibly can while hopefully breaking into the Socceroo’s national squad also.
DS – Until you left did you envisage returning to play for Fulham after a couple of loan spells & was it a hard decision to leave Fulham or was it time to move on?
CB – I think that’s the plan for any player on the books at Fulham and it’s a big achievement to play for such a big club. It was a hard decision to move on from such good people and everyone involved with the club who had a hand in my development as a player and growing up as a person too. It’s not just about the players and coaches on the pitch but the many people off the pitch who helped me out massively along the way and to all those people, along with the coaches and players, I’m forever grateful to them.
DS – How’s it going at Scunthorpe? Sorry to see the playoff heartache last season. We were there the season before last against Reading and it’s a horrible feeling. But just like we did, I’m sure you’ll come back stronger for it!
CB – Scunthorpe is going well like you say, promotion is the aim so hopefully we can go one better this season.
DS – Finally Cameron, pie or pasty – which filling?
CB – I would have to say a steak and gravy pie from those options.