Burnley’s 19-year-old attacker Dwight McNeil has burst onto the scene over the past year with his dynamic play.
Burnley’s flying winger burst onto the scene during the dying embers of last season’s remarkable European campaign.
McNeil made his first team bow on the last day of the season against Bournemouth as a late substitute, as Sean Dyche teased Burnley fans with a glimpse of what was to come.
As the stadium announcer read his name out to a rapturous reception, even the most optimistic of Clarets fans wouldn’t have predicted his meteoric rise this season.
Burnley fans knew what the exciting youngster was all about, but for the rest of the world to really sit up and take notice, he needed the global stage.
What better opportunity to announce yourself to the world than on the European stage, in the second leg of the third knockout round against Olympiacos?
Despite the Clarets bowing out of the competition, the 18-year-old stole the show and stamped his mark in the starting 11 ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester United, where McNeil plied his trade as a youngster.
Paul Pogba? No problem, McNeil had the Frenchman tied in knots at one point, and we all thought the flying winger was here to stay.
Sean Dyche had other ideas, keeping McNeil out of the side for while, before his reintroduction to the starting XI against West Ham, where the 19 year old had Turf Moor revelling at his scintillating display.
The freshly turned 19 year old marauded in at the back post to sweep home an Ashley Westwood cross, enabling him to pull out his customary celebration, proving Dyche can certainly call upon him.
McNeil bring something us Burnley fans having seen since the days of maybe Chris Eagles, someone who is fearless, taking the game to the opposition – someone who oozes confidence for such a young man.
With players in the box of the stature of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, it does make you wonder why McNeil was never a fixture from day one, but now he has got his chance he has certainly grasped it with both hands and captured the hearts of the Turf Moor faithful.
His direct nature and skill on the ball is certainly something to get you off your seat and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by England, with U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd a regular attendee at Turf Moor to see one of the brightest talents in the Premier League at the moment.
As the fearless youngster marauded through the heart of the Manchester United midfield at Old Trafford last month, he proved he plays with a maturity beyond his years, not just with the ball, but also without, showing his former employers what he’s made of, with United’s loss being Burnley’s gain.
Rightly so, he left the field to the acclaim of “Dwight McNeil, he’s one of our own”, which he certainly is!
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