NEWCASTLE: If you were to draw a path to Champions League football, it is unlikely you would sketch the rags to riches rise of Dan Burn.
Released by the Magpies before his teenage years, the Geordie was kicking around with Blyth Town and New Hartley the last time Newcastle United were in Champions League action in 2003.
Not for one second did he imagine the next time his boyhood heroes would play in Europe’s premier competition, that he would be hailed as the hero.
Hometown club Blyth Spartans handed defender Burn the chance to prove his worth, followed by non-league Darlington. Spells at Yeovil Town, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, and Brighton and Hove Albion then followed before manager Eddie Howe and Newcastle came knocking again in the first transfer window after the PIF takeover.
A low-key, low-maintenance signing, Burn slotted into the center of a back four perfectly, before a shift to an unnatural left position with the arrival of Sven Botman. And while many have written him off, time and time again, Burn continues to be a great survivor on Tyneside.
Finally, after a flawless, goalscoring display against PSG in which he kept both Randal Kolo Muani and Ousmane Dembele quiet, some respect is finally being put on his name.
On the 4-1 win, in which he netted the second goal, Burn said: “Crazy. It has not sunk in; I am a bit speechless. We wanted to entertain the crowd and get the crowd behind us, but we did well.
“We knew PSG were not going to change the way they play. The times to play high up the pitch and we had the crowd pushing us, we had that for the last goal with the crowd pushing us on for Fabs (Fabian Schar) goal.
“I just try to survive at that apprentice level, and you try to work your way up. I was released by Fulham at 25 years old; to come back and play Champions League football — I am very proud.
“It is like a dream — I am waiting for someone to wake me up, I am waiting for the bubble to pop.
“We have a great group and what the gaffer (Howe) has done with the philosophy we have got.”
Goals are not really a huge part of Burn’s game, although his 2.05m frame makes him a real asset in both boxes. And following on from his debut goal of the campaign in the 8-0 win at Sheffield United, he bagged a second less than a fortnight later, although he had to wait for the video assistant referee gods to shine down on him before celebrating in front of 52,000 jubilant Geordies.
Burn and Newcastle now sit top of Group F, the pool everyone was coining the Champions League’s Group of Death. After a draw against AC Milan in the San Siro, United followed that up with three points against the Parisians, whose side included arguably the best player on the planet, Kylian Mbappe.
On sitting top of the group on four points, Burn said: “I can’t believe it obviously. The home games are the ones we can go and attack and Dortmund is next. I cannot believe I am saying Dortmund is next,” he added.