Ex-striker urges Clarets to savour Euro adventure

European nights at Parkhead were some of the best times of Andy Payton's career and the former Clarets striker is encouraging Sean Dyche's side to embrace and enjoy the experience.

Friday, 25th May 2018, 9:00 am
Former Clarets striker Andy Payton

The one-time Accrington Stanley and Northwich Victoria coach, who scored 68 league goals for Burnley in 156 appearances, featured for Liam Brady’s Celtic during the 1992/93 and 1993/94 Europa League campaigns, playing three times.

Burnley’s Golden Boot winner at the turn of the Millennium, who scored 27 times in the old Second Division, played alongside the likes of Tony Mowbray, Tom Boyd, Paul McStay, John Collins and Gerry Creaney as the Hoops overturned a two-goal deficit against FC Koln.

The Germans held the advantage from the first leg at the Müngersdorfer Stadion but three goals in the second leg at Celtic Park secured their passage to the next round.

Celtic's Andy Payton (No 10) celebrates scores Celtic's second goal during a Celtic v Rangers Old Firm football match at Celtic Park in March 1993 - final score 2-1 to Celtic.

Payton, nicknamed the ‘Padiham Predator’, didn’t feature when Borussia Dortmund, armed with Stefan Klos, Stefan Reuter, Michael Rummenigge and Stephane Chapuisat, won 3-1 on aggregate.

However, he returned to action in the competition for the Bhoys the following term when Alain Baumann’s own goal in extra-time proved the difference against BSC Young Boys.

Payton, who missed the subsequent defeat against Sporting CP, said: “It was a fantastic experience for me as a young lad. I was about 23 at the time. The Celtic side that I was a part of was a good team at the time.

“I was involved in three games over two seasons. In the 1992/93 campaign we ended up getting knocked out by Borussia Dortmund over two legs. They’d just started to become a force in Europe back then and they were a very good side.

Celtic v Dundee United at Celtic Park (Parkhead) in December 1992. Celtic's Andy Payton.

“Against Dortmund we lost 1-0 in Germany and then they beat us 2-1 at Parkhead to go through 3-1 on aggregate. They were a very good side.

“We’d overturned a two-goal deficit to beat Cologne before that. We lost 2-0 in Germany but won 3-0 at home. That was a great night.

“The season after we beat Young Boys of Berne 1-0 at Parkhead in the first round after drawing 0-0 there and then I played against Sporting Lisbon but we exited the competition early on.”

Payton, who has completed his UEFA A Licence, added: “It was a great experience because you’re playing against quality teams. It’s a switch from the norm, something completely different. You’re playing against opposition with different styles of play.

“Any European nights at Parkhead were unbelievable. They are well renowned. You’d be getting tens of thousands of fans on for games.

“The support up there is absolutely magnificent and the noise they made was incredible. They sold their allocation abroad as well. That added pressure though because the fans wanted success.

“It’s something that will always stay with me. They were some of the proudest and most memorable moments of my career. Playing at Burnley, being a Burnley lad, will always be top, though.”

The Clarets had finished 16th in the First Division when Payton departed Turf Moor, though the once prolific forward played just twice in all competitions in his final season as a professional.

The club evolved under Stan Ternent’s reign, as he propelled them from the third tier, and Payton is delighted to see Dyche taking the founder members of the Football League to a completely different level.

With European football set to return for the first time in 51 years, a reward for the club’s highest finish since 1974 as they hung on to the coat tails of the Premier League’s top six, Payton said: “It’s been unbelievable and it’s absolutely fantastic. Sean Dyche has done an amazing job, he’s taken the club to another level.

“The first team is now full of international footballers, it’s a very strong squad. As a former player, to see the club doing so well, it’s great.

“Stan sewed the seed when getting the club out of the third tier and up to the top end of the Championship and Sean has just taken it on.

“We’ve got some great players and it’s brilliant for the town. It’s been a long time since we were last in Europe.”

Payton added: “If we do have a bit of a run in the Europa League and qualify for the group stages then it would be fantastic.

“Staying up in the Premier League alone takes some doing. Just look at some of the clubs that have gone down with their budgets. Staying up in itself is a huge success.

“Doing what they’ve done is incredible and everyone involved deserves huge praise. They’ve got to embrace this opportunity now and enjoy it.

“The players have experienced pressurised situations both domestically and internationally so I think they’ll do well.”