VERY few footballers manage to achieve the status of cult hero at more than one club.

But Glen Little is as fondly remembered by fans of Glentoran and Reading as he is as at Turf Moor.

The winger made more than 280 appearances for the Clarets and was recently voted as the fans favourite player of the 1990s, idolised for his important goals and his languid wing-play.

Born and raised in South London he was on the books of Crystal Palace from the ages of nine to 19 but never made the first team.

After rejection at home Little made the bold move to rebuild his career in Ireland, playing first-team football away from the glare of publicity that accompanies the English game.

Former Claret Tommy Cassidy was the key figure in Little’s move across the Irish Sea in 1995, signing him for Glentoran after a brief loan at Derry City.

“Glentoran had quite strong connections with Burnley,” said Little. “Tommy Cassidy was the manager there and Jimmy McIlroy and Alex Elder had played for them.”

It was while at the Belfast club that Little first earned the cult hero reputation from fans that would follow him through his career.

He scored a winning goal in the 1996 Irish Cup Final and then netted against Sparta Prague in the Cup Winners Cup.

“The fans took to me at Glentoran,” added Little. “That was something that would follow me through my career. I’m not sure why but the fans at the clubs I played for seemed to take to me.”

After two years at Glentoran Little was keen to return to English football, and his move to the Clarets was always on the cards thanks to the influence of Cassidy, who made almost 100 appearances for Burnley in the early 1980s.

Little said: “When I signed Tommy said to me ‘if you do well I will get you a move to England’, and he was as good as his word.

“Clive Middlemass (Burnley chief scout) came over to watch me a couple of times and obviously he liked me so Burnley came in for me.

“There was interest from a couple of Scottish clubs and Notts County had a bid rejected, but understandably Tommy was pushing me in the direction of Burnley.

“I came over and saw the ground, which was fantastic, and spoke to Adrian Heath and it seemed like a good move to make.”

Little signed for the Clarets for £100,000 and incredibly it was to be the only transfer fee ever paid for him in his career.

Two months after arriving at Turf Moor he was playing in an FA Cup third round match at Anfield, but his first season for Burnley didn’t go as planned.

“It was a bit of a stop and start season for me,” said Little. “I had an injury in that first season, a bit of a toe problem.

“I was playing in some games but then I would be out for a bit and it was quite frustrating.

“Adrian Heath was great through, he said they were always looking at next year being the year I would get in the team and he made me feel at ease about it.”

But after getting assurances from Heath the Clarets boss left Turf Moor to become Howard Kendall’s assistant at Everton.

Following Heath’s departure Chris Waddle was appointed as player-manager, with Glenn Roeder his assistant, and Little was initially excited.

“People kept saying to me ‘he will love you’ because we had similar styles,” added Little.

“But it didn’t work out like that.

“For some reason he didn’t take to me at first, it was just one of those things.”

Early in the season Little was the subject of a heated debate during a fans question and answer session with Waddle and Roeder.

Supporters were keen to see him in the starting line-up and Roeder tried to defend his omission while praising Little, but told the audience that Little ‘wasn’t fit to lace Chris Waddle’s boots’.

“It never bothered me,” said Little. “I knew the point Glenn was trying to make. Burnley was a close community as a football town so these things get back to you but it didn’t affect me.

“To be fair I probably wasn’t fit to lace his boots, Chris Waddle was a great player.”

At the turn of the year Burnley were bottom of the league and Little was finally given his chance.

“I got my chance against Watford, we were bottom of the league and they were near the top.

“We were doing really badly, I think everyone else had had a game, the kit man was in the team before me.”

Watford were beaten 2-0 at Turf Moor with Little influential and he became a regular for the rest of the season as the Clarets avoided relegation on the last day with a 2-1 win over Plymouth.

“That Plymouth game will stay with me forever,” added Little. “It was the first time I had seen Turf Moor full, it was an amazing atmosphere.

“In a way staying up on that day was as good, if not better, than the promotion, it was fantastic.”

Having finally forced his way in to Waddle’s plans the former England winger left Turf Moor and Little was sad to see him go.

“I’d had two managers in two years,” he said, “It is hard to go and prove yourself to another manager.”