Midfielder Deano looks back on eight remarkable seasons
It seems like yesterday when Dean Marney stood alongside Chris Iwelumo as one of Burnley's new signings at Turf Moor.
But it was, in fact, nearly eight years ago when the pair, who would be joined by Ross Wallace and Lee Grant later that summer, did the rounds pitchside as they spoke to the media ahead of the club’s return to the Championship.
The Barking-born midfielder, who started out at Tottenham Hotspur, came across as a quiet, unassuming character, fairly reserved, but how wrong first impressions can be.
Marney was Brian Laws’ best bit of business during his 11-month reign, which overlapped the club’s fall from the Premier League.
While many pointed him out as the jester of the dressing room, Marney’s performances on the pitch were high octane, committed and gritty.
The former England Under 21 international was a key building block in the restructuring at Burnley following the departure of Owen Coyle and an unsuccessful stay in the top flight, the club’s first in 33 years.
“Burnley is a club that wants to be back in the Premier League and I want to be back along with everyone else, he said. “It’s regarded as the best league in the world, so I definitely want to get back and I definitely feel I can do it with Burnley.”
Marney had to be patient, but, on the back of Eddie Howe’s 21-month spell in charge, he was back in the big time.
He played 38 times in Sean Dyche’s first season in charge as the club finished runners up to champions Leicester City in the second tier.
“The first promotion was the highlight,” said Marney.
“I’ve never been involved in a group as good as that. We had some unbelievable individual players but the team spirit was something I’d never experienced before. The team spirit now is unbelievable but that group inparticular was incredible.”
Burnley’s second longest serving player among the current contingent, behind Kevin Long, had been at the top of his game in the Premier League, but he was dealt a crushing blow midway through the campaign.
The cruciate knee ligament injury sustained against West Brom ruled him out for the season, and the side could not avoid the drop.
After surgery and rehabilitation necessitated a nine-month spell on the sidelines, Marney featured at the back end of the following term as the Clarets were crowned champions.
However, those highs and lows continued to intertwine, and in January 2017, having started 21 of the first 22 games in the Premier League, Marney suffered a second knee injury against Arsenal at the Emirates.
“I’ve been here for the best part of eight years but that’s just the way football goes,” he said. “I’ve had some serious injuries that have cost me. Every time I felt good, something seemed to happen and the second one was really serious and effectively ended my Burnley career.”
That afternoon would prove to be the last time Marney would feature in Dyche’s XI.
The 34-year-old, who had loan spells at Swindon Town, QPR, Gillingham and Norwich City, was able to get back to a full bill of health, but he wouldn’t be called upon from the bench on the 12 occasions that he was named in the matchday squad.
“This place has been eight years of my life,” he said, after saying farewell on Sunday. “About 90% of that has been happy so it’s been a great place.
“I’ve got a lot of good memories and today was really sad. Obviously I would have loved to have had the opportunity to play.
“I’ve got a lot of great memories from my time here, I’ve met some unbelieveable people along the way. It’s been a good place to come in and work.
“There’s a touch of disappointment that I didn’t really get an opportunity to prove that I can still add to this team, but that’s the way football goes sometimes.
“The last four or five months have been tough because I knew what was coming, and then I was just hoping to get an opportunity but it is what it is.”
It’s been some journey, one that’s ended in the club’s best finish since 1974 and European football.
And Marney, who played 221 times for the Clarets, is delighted with the position the club finds itself: “I knew it was a Premier League club but to have the season that the lads have had in getting to Europe it’s a massive achievement and it’s brilliant for the club.
“It will be a big season next year for the club with Europe, it’ll be a busy schedule, so the gaffer will look to add players because it’s quite a small squad.
“It will be really interesting because I’ll be a Burnley fan now. I’ll be looking out for Burnley all the time and I’d love to see them do well next season.”