Christian Burgess highlights one major difference between playing for Portsmouth and in Belgium
Christian Burgess pinpointed how there’s less ‘ruthless banter’ in the Royale Union Saint-Gilloise changing room compared to Pompey as he toasted a perfect maiden season in Belgium.
The centre-back swapped the south coast for Brussels after the Blues’ League One play-off defeat to Oxford in July.
Having helped Pompey to the League Two title and Checkatrade Trophy glory, supporters aplenty were devastated when his five years at Fratton Park came to an end.
And it comes to no surprise Burgess has been a hit for Saint-Gilloise.
He’s missed just one match this campaign as Les Unionistes captured the Belgian second-tier title with four matches to spare.
Playing on the continent has its differences compared to League One.
And how players act around the dressing room is one that stands out to Burgess.
Speaking to The Athletic, he said: ‘It’s been a fantastic season. I couldn’t have imagined it would go any better.
‘It was a little leap of faith, because I didn’t know a lot about the Belgian League and what things are like, but I have no regrets, that’s for sure.
‘It’s been a real eye-opener to how they play football over here, a good experience culturally to be in the changing room with a lot of different language speaking lads from all different parts of the world, so it’s been a real joy.
‘The changing room is a lot more friendly. There’s less ruthless banter, everybody’s a little bit nicer, a bit more welcoming, possibly a little bit less competitive. There’s not that edge to it.
‘It feels very much like a family. I know the sporting director did a lot of work on the type of people he recruited. He wanted to create that sort of atmosphere I’m describing. It’s been really easy to settle in, to fit in.’
Next season, Burgess will prepare to face established European outfits like Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Genk in the Belgian top flight.
He’ll also come up against former Fratton team-mate Cameron McGeehan, whose club KV Oostende currently sit fourth.
And the ex-Peterborough man is relishing the challenge.
Burgess added: ‘It’s exciting. There are some big stadiums, big clubs. Some of them are going to be competing in the Champions League, some in the Europa League, so there’s a lot of quality.
‘We have a good squad and we believe enough in ourselves and in the coach that we can compete.’