Graham Alexander is finally a Claret

Last updated : 30 August 2007 By Tony Scholes
At the time Burnley were struggling at the wrong end of what is now League One, and Alexander opted for Deepdale rather than Turf Moor when he decided to move to the North West.

He'd already been a thorn in our side and that was to continue over the next few years during a succession of keenly contested local derbies. His first goals against Burnley at least counted for nothing for his second club Luton, who he had joined from Scunthorpe in the summer of 1995.

He netted twice in three minutes at Kenilworth Road against Chris Waddle's team in November 1997, both from free kicks from outside the box although Marlon Beresford had to be seriously questioned with one of them. It didn't matter, we'd scored once earlier in a rare footballing moment, a piece of skill from Michael Williams, and won it with further goals from Gerry Creaney and Paul Barnes.

In March 1999 he was on the move again. Burnley wanted him as part of the rebuilding. Ally Pickering was our right back at the time but he wasn't going to be retained. He opted for Preston and we instead signed Dean West in the summer.

Since moving to Deepdale he's played fifteen games against us and scored five goals, four of those goals coming from the penalty spot, hardly surprising given that Preston always seem to get dodgy penalties against us.

Whilst at Preston he's won his place in the Scotland squad. He made his international debut against Nigeria at Aberdeen's Pittodrie Stadium in April 2002 and has now won a total of thirty caps, the last of them coming against the Faroe Islands in June of this year in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

More Scotland caps or not, his league football will be with Burnley, over 350 games since we first came close to signing him.

Steve Cotterill said on confirming the signing: "I have known Graham for a few years and we would have liked to have had him here five or ten years ago, but we have got him here now and we are going to enjoy him.

"I don't think there is a question over his quality and his age. He could be one of those players who has got even better with age. We are just delighted to have him.

"We agreed a fee with Preston on Wednesday night but I feel we get more than a right back in Graham. He can play well in midfield and it will depend who we are playing against and where as to where he may play in the team.

"He is a captain, a leader and a winner and all those are vital ingredients you want in your team on a Saturday."