THE long, flowing locks swept back into a ponytail may have looked more at home in La Liga, but the accent could not have been more familiar.

“I’m buzzing” spoke the gentle voice. And not one native of Lancashire could have mistaken where it came from. It was Burnley. Through and through.

Not that anyone inside of Turf Moor needed reminding, but the soft Burnley drawl served as a stark reminder that our boy was back. Jay Rodriguez … one of our own … had come home.

I will never forget sitting in the James Hargreaves upper tier that night of 23 September 2008. It was early on in a season that Burnley had not been tipped to do much in; perhaps survive another tricky Championship and try and force our way into a play-off race.

Fulham had come to town for a League Cup game and Jay had been given his first start of the season. He had played well, with most of the crowd already singing his praises.

My dad was smitten from the off, and delighted that the youth set-up and produced yet another piece of quality.

If Burnley fans hadn’t started falling in love with him by then, they certainly did after he scored an 88th minute winner and launch our ‘Capital Punishment’ run.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I think most Burnley fans have been wishing for this moment ever since he left for Southampton.

Watching his career thrive at Southampton, to the brink of forcing his way into the England senior side, gave me grave doubts that he would ever pull on the Claret and Blue ever again. But football has a funny way of throwing up old friendships.

As it turned out, Jay’s rise coincided with the dawn of the Dyche era, and neither one of us has looked back since.

Local lads are always fan-favourites of course - Jack Grealish is dominating much of Villa’s rise back to the top flight.

But I think it’s even more special when the town is one like Burnley.

Things are just done differently here. And Jay gets us. He grew up with us. He went to school with us.

He kicked a football around the park with us.

And when he next puts that ball in the back of the net, you can bet he turns to the stands and cheers along with us.

Jay is one of our own.

Even if we do have to tell him to get his hair cut….

Natalie Bromley


The No Nay Never Podcast