‘You could be playing Shrewsbury’ - how Portsmouth fans have been reminding Europa League star what he's been missing out on at Fratton Park

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There is no questioning the meteoric rise of former Pompey favourite Christian Burgess in recent years.

From playing in League One to competing in the Europa League quarter-finals is some accomplishment for the defender - who was voted the Blues’ Player of the Season in his final campaign at Fratton Park.

Despite his time on the south coast coming to an end in 2020, the 31-year-old has enjoyed plenty of success with Union Saint-Gilloise (USG) in the years which have since followed.

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Claiming the title of the Belgian second division in his maiden year on the continent would be followed up by a second-place finish in the Jupiler Pro League last term.

Despite USG reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League, their journey came to a close on Thursday evening when they lost 5-2 on aggregate and 4-1 on the night to German side Bayer Leverkusen.

Nonetheless, Burgess has joked about his surprise rise to the top of European football and how Pompey fans still remind him of what he could’ve missed out on at Fratton Park.

‘The trajectory is funny,’ he told PA in an interview ahead of their exit from the Europa League.

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‘I’ve had a few Portsmouth fans tweeting me saying, “You could be playing Shrewsbury away on the weekend”, that sort of thing.

Christian Burgess.Christian Burgess.
Christian Burgess.

‘When you look at it as simply as that, I mean it is pretty wild that I get the privilege of playing in a European quarter-final.

‘(Reaching the semi-finals) would be the biggest thing to happen in my career, definitely – and probably one of the biggest for the club as well.

‘We’re 90 minutes away, anything can happen and it’s at home, so we’re optimistic but we know Bayer Leverkusen are a top side as well and they were very good on Thursday just gone.

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In their second season back in the Jupiler Pro League, USG now sit second and two points behind leaders Genk.

And the rise from the Belgian second division to fighting for top flight is something Burgess has heavily praised.

‘We’ve probably achieved a lot more than expected in a quicker amount of time,

‘But I suppose the club is sort of doing what they set out to do, just a little bit faster but really growing and it’s been a great ride to be on.’