This week’s wonderkid is a Scottish international winger who has gone from scoring goals in England’s second tier to helping Leipzig challenge for the title in their Bundesliga debut season.
Name: Oliver Burke
Club: RB Leipzig
Debut: 24 September 2014 for Nottingham Forest v Tottenham Hotspur
Date of birth: 7 April 1997
Preferred foot: right
They say …
“He is very quick, very strong. He likes playing wide. He has power that many young Scots boys don’t have.”
Gordon Strachan, Scotland manager
“Of course he will be as big as Kenny Dalglish. And Kenny was my hero, so it shows you what I think of Ollie. And yes, he can be Scotland’s answer to Gareth Bale, if you want a modern comparison.”
Mick Elliot, Scottish FA scout who spotted Burke at the age of nine
“He is an outstanding talent. His pace and playing style are a perfect match for our philosophy. We are happy to have signed him as many other top clubs were interested.”
Ralf Rangnick, Leipzig sporting director
Burke was born in Scotland but grew up near Nottingham, where he joined the Forest academy when he was eight. He turned professional in September 2014, spending part of that campaign on loan at Bradford City. Having played semi-regularly for Forest in 2015/16, Burke enjoyed a brilliant first month of this season, scoring four goals. That prompted Leipzig to make Burke, at €15m, the most expensive Scottish player ever.
Playing style …
Described as a “force of nature” by Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick, Burke is a hard worker who can operate on either flank. He is particularly dangerous on the counterattack and has an eye for goal, as attested by his four strikes in four starts for Forest this term.
Shades of …
There have been comparisons to Gareth Bale in his home country given the similarities in height, physique and pace. He may not be as clinical as the Welsh superstar yet, but he is eager to learn and previous coaches have praised his modesty. Thomas Lam, a former team-mate at Forest, said: “He has the same strengths as Bale. He does scare the life out of opponents.”
Eureka moment …
His double in Forest’s 4-3 victory over Wigan Athletic on 20 August may have been the deciding factor in Leipzig tabling an offer. Burke, who was eligible to play for England, made his senior debut for Scotland in a home friendly against Denmark last March.
Best-case scenario …
Burke only got his second Bundesliga start last weekend and has a fair bit of competition in his quest for regular football. However, he has time on his side and you get the feeling he is willing to put his head down and work as hard as it takes. Leipzig is a good place for ambitious young players to be right now.
He says …
“I stepped foot in this place and it was perfect. They showed me their different playing styles and I just smiled. It was amazing and everything I have been looking for. Everyone here has the drive to be the best they can be. All I want to do is play football and work my socks off. It was a dream come true.”
On his move to the Bundesliga
“The team’s on a roll and I have to wait in line and continue to put my foot on the gas.”
On his current status as a bench player