The most extraordinary story of Newcastle United’s transfer window – and it’s not the club’s stunning move for Burno Guimaraes
It’s arguably the story of Newcastle United’s window.
No, not the capture of Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes from Olympique Lyonnais – nor the signing of England international Kieran Trippier.
It’s the less-heralded deal for Dan Burn, who last night joined from Brighton and Hove Albion in a £13million move.
The 29-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal at the club in the final hours of what turned out to be a remarkable January window for the relegation-threatened club.
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What makes Burn’s signing remarkable is his own footballing journey, which started in the North East many more than two decades ago.
Burn, a former Junior Magpie and season-ticket holder, was let go by Newcastle at a young age, and Burn – who once sat in the East Stand – can now finally realise his lifelong ambition of representing his boyhood club.
Confirmation of the deal came in the final few minutes of the window, which also saw Chris Wood and Matt Targett arrive at St James’s Park.
"I can’t believe it – I’m still in shock,” said Burn. “It’s happened really quickly. I was delighted to get it over the line. I wish it hadn’t of been deadline day, because I’ve been stressed!”
The Blyth-born defender’s deadline-day anxiety was understandable given what the move meant to him – and his family.
“Coming from the town of Blyth, everyone’s a Newcastle supporter, so you’re born into it,” said Burn in an interview with Brighton’s programme in the summer of 2020. “My dad had a season-ticket, a real diehard fan, and he signed me up to the Junior Magpies club early.
"I started playing football when I was six or seven, so got more into it more and then my dad would eventually start taking me to loads of games.
"I eventually had my own season-ticket and the years I remember most from my childhood was when the club played in the Champions League – they were great times for the club.”
Burn was scouted by Newcastle while playing for Blyth Spartans, but he was let go at a young age.
“I was playing for Blyth Spartans as a junior, and was scouted by Newcastle United and invited to join their development centre,” said the 6ft 7in defender.
"You have the Academy, where the best players went, and the development centre would run alongside that, where you would train Fridays, and they kept an eye on the players’ progress.
"It wasn’t that great to be honest. While I was a good footballer when I joined them, as the two or three years went on, I declined quite rapidly. My body shot up, and I didn’t really catch up with myself football-wise until I was 15 or 16."
Burn’s rejection spurred him on, and he was eventually scouted by Darlington while playing local football.
“I was there (at Newcastle) from 11 to 13, but don’t remember much of my time, maybe I’ve blocked a lot of it out, because it wasn’t a particularly good experience being let go by the club you support, with the realisation setting in that you’re probably not good enough to play at that level,” said Burn.
"I got released around Christmas time too, and it knocked my confidence.
"For a good couple of years. It wasn’t until I started growing into my body again that I started enjoying my football once more. I then kicked on and eventually got my league chance when I joined Darlington.”
Fulham then came calling in 2011 – along with Newcastle, then managed by Alan Pardew. However, Burn, aged 18, felt it wasn’t the right time to return to the club.
“When I signed for Fulham, I was actually given the opportunity to go to Newcastle as well,” said Burn. “I would have loved to play for Newcastle, but, at that age, at that time in my career, it was the best decision for me to get away from that goldfish bowl where everyone’s analysing what you’re doing.
"I just wanted to get away and solely concentrate on my football, which was the correct decision.”
It was the right decision. Burn never looked back. Loan spells at Yeovil Town and Birmingham City hastened his development, and he moved on to Wigan Athletic in 2016. From there, he moved to Brighton.
Burn – who can also play at left-back – was asked about being released by Newcastle in his first interview back at the club.
"When you’re a kid, I think you’re a little bit naive,” Burn told NUFC TV. “When you get around the set-up, you think you’re going to play for Newcastle forever. It definitely knocked us. But, to be fair to Newcastle, I don’t think I was very good at the time!
“It made us resilient, and want to prove people wrong. I’ve fed off bits of that throughout my whole career. I’m proud of the way I done it.”
Burn did it the hard way, and when United came calling again, it was a relatively easy decision. That said, he was happy at ninth-placed Brighton.
“Honestly, if it hadn’t have been Newcastle, I wouldn’t have left,” said Burn. “I loved my time there. We were doing well, and I was playing regularly. I really enjoyed it under the manager (Graham Potter).
"Once I knew Newcastle were interested, I knew I wanted to be there. I spoke to the manager, and the project here, and in the immediate short term I want to fight to keep the team in the division.
"I don’t think anyone really understands who aren’t Newcastle fans or Geordies how much it means to the city, so hopefully can bring a bit of that passion to the club both on and off the pitch – and make a positive impact.”
Burn has waited a long, long time for this opportunity – and he’s determined to seize it with both hands.
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