A special day for Jay and Burnley

Last updated : 08 February 2011 By Tony Scholes
Jay Rodriguez
Having Burnley players in an England squad is not commonplace. Jack Cork has been included on a number of occasions but last week Jay Rodriguez was called up and should he get onto the pitch at any stage today he will become only our second ever England Under-21 international as far as permanent players are concerned, following on from Richard Chaplow.

Chappy made his one and only appearance for his country at this level seven years ago next week when he came on as a substitute for Nigel Reo-Coker against Holland in a friendly played at Hull City's KC Stadium.

Today is the turn of Jay Rodriguez, known to Burnley fans as either Jay Rod or Super Jay. The news of his call up last week was fantastic news for him and for everyone else involved with Burnley Football Club. It was no surprise to me that his first thoughts were to thank those who have helped him so far in his career - his family, the youth and first team coaches at Burnley and of course his mentor Ade Akinbiyi.

It's brilliant news for the town too - a local lad ready to pull on the white shirt of England. Nothing can be better than seeing one of our own reach the international stage.

I first saw Jay in a youth game at Gawthorpe during the 2004/05 season as a 15-year-old. He was a member of the under-16 team then but had been called up to the youth team bench. He came on and I asked who the young kid was. "It's Kiko's lad," I was told.

From there I saw him progress through the youth team and if one game stands out it was the FA Youth Cup tie against Luton, played at Padiham in January 2007. He scored both goals that night in a 2-0 win and the second one was memorable as he hit a stunning, dipping shot from all of 40 yards.

It was at Padiham later that season that I learned, from then head of youth Vince Overson, that manager Steve Cotterill had rewarded him with his first professional contract.

Over the next three years he started just two league games for Burnley. He had loans with Stirling Albion and Barnsley and also had to recover from a broken leg. He also had some wonderful moments as a substitute in our cup runs in which he scored winning goals against Fulham and QPR and scored that third in the Spurs semi-final epic that took the game to extra time.

Jay Rodriguez
It was time for him to take the next step and prior to this season I read suggestions on the message board that it was time for him to go out on loan again. My thoughts were that it was perhaps time he was given his chance at Burnley.

That chance came and how he's taken it; to the extent that he's now considered one of the first names on the team sheet. He's scored some vital goals which include late winners against Preston and Norwich at home as well as vital point winning goals away from home at Millwall, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.

It's not just his goals, far from it. Jay has developed an all round game and is very much at home on that left hand side.

And now today, in Italy, he's part of Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad.

The town of Burnley was quite rightly very proud recently of James Anderson's contribution to the Ashes win in Australia. Today the whole town should be equally proud as one of our own prepares to represent his country for the first time.

Well done Jay.