£28m man Oliver Burke happy to muck in with Scotland U21s

For a 20-year-old who has thus far cost £28 million in transfer fees (£13m from Nottingham Forest to RB Leipzig a year ago and £15m from Leipzig to West Bromwich Albion last month), Oliver Burke is remarkably unaffected by his price tags.

Oliver Burke scored in Scotland's 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the Euro U21 qualifier in Paisley. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

There are no airs and graces about the winger who, capped five times by Gordon Strachan for the full Scotland side after being fast-tracked into the senior squad, was quite happy to muck in with contemporaries from Queen of the South and St Mirren as he made his debut for the under-21 team in their unexpected 2-0 win over the Netherlands in Paisley on Tuesday evening.

Indeed, he welcomed the demotion to the younger age group, and not just because he scored the opening goal in the first match of their European Championship qualifying group. Burke also welcomed the opportunity of a rare start, claiming it helped both his 
fitness and his self-belief.

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“I’m just very happy to be playing and it’s about getting my confidence back as I haven’t been playing much,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling as our team is fantastic and we showed that by beating a very good Holland 
side 2-0.

“Obviously, I have my eye set on the A squad but I need to concentrate on helping these guys in the under-21 team and that’s my priority for now.”

Burke’s senior experience saw him handed the captain’s armband on Tuesday but the Kirkcaldy-born winger admits he is one to lead by example rather than by shouting and cajoling his team-mates.

“I really enjoy it; I was captain in Toulon [at this summer’s Under-20 tournament] even though I’m not usually the captain type,” he said.

“This is the perfect start and I’m so chuffed for the boys. It was a great shift from everyone so I hope we can now carry on. We have a top team, we have talent all over the park and we just need to make sure it continues coming together. We are still knitting as a group but you can tell already, after only a week of training, that we have a great chemistry within the squad.

“If we can keep it going and keep working hard then the goals will come. You saw how patient we were in the first half against Holland, we had a few chances where it just wasn’t falling for us and the final end product wasn’t there. However, in the second half the game started to open up, the Dutch began to get tired and they didn’t like it when we were running a lot and putting balls in behind them. That showed a tactical maturity and a togetherness but we need to stay focused and look ahead to the next task against England. We need to keep pushing.”

The young Scots face England in Middlesbrough on 6 October in what is a tough qualifying group.

“We are all guns blazing for England; we’re all very happy and the changing room is very lively,” said Burke. “We’re all looking forward to it.”

Scot Gemmill’s youngsters outplayed their more fancied opponents after the interval and Dutch coach Art Langeler confessed that he had been taken aback by the quality of the hosts.

“We expected the way they played but they did it very well,” he said. “They were stronger physically and played long balls we couldn’t cope with. They deserved to win because they were much better. They have good players and fit players. We knew they would play tactically as they did but they were stronger than us.

“If this is the level they reach in every game then they’re going to do very well in this group. We got some control ten minutes before half-time but that was all.

“We were punished when the 15th corner went in. If you get so many corners against you it’s logical one will go in. Every game is different but they made a good impression on me.”