OLIVER BURKE I’m really happy and I love FOOTBALL again. It’s a great feeling!

At just 22 he's played at six clubs in four different countries – has he finally found his home in La Liga?

HOW DO YOU FIND BEING HALF SCOTTISH AND HALF ENGLISH?

Oliver says: “My mum’s side is English and my dad’s side is Scottish so, I’m sort of half and half. I’ve got an English accent, so people are usually quite shocked. When I first came here my teammates were like ‘Ah, you speak English, I can understand you better!’ and would say ‘Yeh, I don’t have the ‘raw’ Scottish accent!’”

YOU broke the TRANSFER record for a Scottish player twice, DO PRICE TAGS WEIGH ON YOU?

Oliver says: “At the beginning, when I made my move to Germany, to Leipzig… I didn’t really know how it got done, how it all went about. I was just going to training, playing football every day, turning up to matches and just playing. I didn’t have a clue about that side of transfers, the money… I didn’t really look into it. I didn’t really realise that side of things until I started doing interviews and people started talking about it a lot. Obviously, it weighs heavily on your shoulders, especially at such a young age. Sometimes it was difficult to get over the fact that that’s happened and everyone looking at you in a different way. They expect bigger, more things. It can be difficult but that’s part of the journey, I guess!”

AT 22 YOU'VE ALREADY PLAYED FOR SIX CLUBS!

Oliver says: “It’s been a whirlwind. I’ve been in the game for a while now, it feels as if I should be 27 or 28 or something, nearly retiring! But I’m still young, I’ve got my whole career ahead of me. There’s a long way to go. Moving around to different clubs, loans can be difficult, but it’s part of the game and you need to take these steps to move forward. Just like every other footballer. If you’re not playing at the club you’re at, you have to look elsewhere for the opportunity and put yourself out there again.”

IS IT TRUE YOU FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH THE GAME?

Oliver says: “For a certain amount of time, it sort of started when I made the move to West Brom. With the manager change and getting the injury at the beginning… everything gets on top of you. Not playing as much, not even being part of the team. You feel left out. You do lose that love for the game. You overthink everything. You think ‘Why am I not playing?’, ‘What do I need to do better?’ But it’s part of the game, you just have to learn, push yourself forward and know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Playing again like I am now, I’m really happy and I love it again. It’s a great feeling!”

HOW DID THE MOVE TO ALAVES HAPPEN?

Oliver says: “We had a few options, but all last minute. Everything seems to be last minute with me, I don’t know why! We saw it as a massive opportunity as soon as it came around. Alaves were showing great interest, more than the other clubs. Where I’d be didn’t really faze me, just as long as I’d be playing football. My main goal is to be somewhere realistic, where I’ll have an opportunity to play and where they believe in me. I saw coming here as a big chance for me, so did my agent so we snatched it up and here I am!”

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DAY LIKE?

Oliver says: “We went to the stadium to check everything out and all of a sudden the groundsman came over and started speaking with a Scottish accent. Everyone kept talking about bagpipes, Scotland… I kept thinking, ‘is this banter?’ So yeah, the groundsman just came over and started speaking Scottish with me and it hit me, ‘Ah, they’re talking about you! It makes sense!’ Apparently, he plays the bagpipes. He’s a great guy and we’ve had some good chats since!”

HOW IS YOUR SPANISH?

Oliver says: “I’m taking lessons, as many as I can without it being too much. It’s difficult. But if I’m playing, you pick things up around the training ground straight away. That’s how it is in football, we have a strategy in training, you know what you’re doing. I have Javi, one of the coaches, to show me and tell me if we’re doing something very different and it clicks right away. Very thankful for that. Without that I’d be a bit lost! But it’s all part of learning, you have to keep learning the language to speak with the lads. Some of them speak English, which is a big bonus. They tell me quickly what’s going on.”

HOW IS THE FOOD?

Oliver says: “I was surprised how they don’t really have a breakfast in the morning. They don’t do the whole English breakfast! It’s all small things, coffee and that. But the food is great, the restaurants are really nice, it’s nice round here. Obviously, it’s a great place to be. It’s not a huge city so you can focus on your football. It’s ten minutes to training, it’s easy to walk around. It’s such a small place, everywhere is easy to get to, it’s less stress.”

WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN STRENGTHS?

Oliver says: “My speed, my power and taking on the man. My heading, leaps… we use that a lot here. When we get a goal kick sometimes they’ll kick it up wide to either Joselu or me. And there’s a lot of areas in my game to work on. Every day you learn on the training ground. I need to work on my shooting, I’ve had a lot of chances but haven’t really put the ball away with regularity. Hopefully that will come, just have to keep practicing in training.”

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

Oliver says: “For me, right now I’d like to find myself a club where I can settle, enjoy and play week in, week out. And find my confidence again, which I’m slowly getting back, to prove all the doubters out there wrong. There’s a lot of doubters out there – there’s always going to be – but I’d love to throw it back in their face a little bit. Hopefully I can do my best here at Alaves and I’ll have a bright future.”

Fans can watch Oliver take on Athletic Bilbao Sunday 1pm GMT on LaLigaTV.  LaLigaTV is the first dedicated channel to broadcast every live match and provide 24/7 access to “All of LaLiga, All in one place.”

Paz