Facing Anderlecht, breaking records and reading books in Antwerp parks - ex-Pompey, Peterborough and Middlesbrough man Christian Burgess' gamble has worked
The ‘gamble’ yielded a record-breaking season for Christian Burgess.
Now next month the central defender will lock horns with Anderlecht and Club Brugge in the top flight of Belgium football.
And there’s still time to sit in Antwerp parks and read books.
According to agent Brian Howard, Burgess has embraced life abroad following his July 2020 departure from Fratton Park.
A phenomenal maiden season with Royale Union Saint-Gilloise saw them romp to the Belgian First Division B title.
With Burgess as an ever-present, they also established a string of league records including most points, most victories, most goals scored, fewest goals conceded, and fewest defeats.
Individually, the 29-year-old was also named in the league’s team of the year.
An inspired decision from the League Two title winner to swap the south coast for Western Europe.
Howard told The News: ‘I caught up with Christian the other week and he has now gone back for pre-season.
‘With the Covid situation, I’ve not seen him since the day we moved him out to Belgium. He’s had a fantastic season and is loving it out there.
‘He didn’t particularly want to leave Pompey, he loved the club, loved the city, really enjoyed the work he did in the community, but, when you are a good person, if you do it in the right way then fans kind of understand it.
‘Sometimes with career decisions it’s a gamble, but it has worked out great for him.
‘Union are now in the top division. They have Anderlecht and Club Brugge in the first two fixtures, so Christian can test himself against some of the best players out there.
‘He loves it out there and absolutely loves the lifestyle. He sits in the city parks and reads his books.
‘There are certain characters who can go and do that – and certain characters that can’t.
‘With his background and the way Christian is, he has fitted into that lifestyle fantastically well.
‘They absolutely love him there and we’ve already had a conversation that if he starts the season well then he’s going to have to sit down and potentially do something contract-wise.
‘It’s down to him. It’s hard work, dedication, backing himself and performing.’
During his five seasons at Fratton Park, Burgess made 210 appearances and scored 12 times.
In the process, he claimed the League Two title, Checkatrade Trophy and The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season.
Howard added: ‘Christian still follows Pompey.
‘I remember watching the Accrington game on the last day of the season and he was texting me as he was also watching it in Belgium.
‘I am sure one day he’ll be in the Fratton End supporting them.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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