While Oli McBurnie might be wearing a Sheffield United shirt right now, the Scotland international was actually on the books as a youngster at Leeds United.
McBurnie was with the Elland Road for some time in his formative years before being released at under-14 level, and the striker himself delivered an insight why the club decided to let him go.
He told Leeds Live: “Me and my brother were both there when we were kids. Growing up in Leeds, it’s nice to score against them, but the result is a bit disappointing. I got released for not being tall enough, believe it or not. I was quite small when I was 15.
“I could never hold a grudge against them for that. I wouldn’t be where I was today if that hadn’t happened to me. It’s made me a lot mentally stronger and stuff like that, so it’s nice to score a couple against them.”
Of course, there’s no telling how young players can develop, especially at that age, but the way McBurnie has progressed is a real tale of where hard work and determination can get you.
After plying his trade in the lower leagues and working his way up the ladder, Sheffield United forked out around £20m to sign him from Swansea in the summer of 2019 in what was then a club-record deal for the Blades.
Noel Whelan, who of course played for Leeds a few seasons ago, raved about what McBurnie brings to the table.
He told Sporting Life [via Football League World]: “His overall performances as a striker upfront – big, strong, holds the ball up, wins the ball in the air. He is a player that I kind of underestimated, and he could be a real, real surprise.”
Former Scotland striker Chris Iwelumo insisted that, when McBurnie gets the service, the 6 foot 2 marksman is “unplayable” – fine praise for a player who’s had to work his way to the big time of the Premier League.
Now valued at £17m by CIES, McBurnie has carved out a fine professional career since being let go by Leeds; and given how he’s now playing at Premier League level, his release surely goes down as a howler.
Meanwhile, this Leeds target is shades of Mark Viduka…
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