Getting to know. . . Swansea City Under-21s striker Oliver McBurnie
11th November 2015
As part of our new Swans Academy content, we speak to an upcoming talent within the youth ranks at the club.
We kick off our stories with an interview with under-21s striker Oliver McBurnie, who chats about his new life in Swansea, playing water polo with Wayne Rooney and how he will be supporting Wales at Euro 2016.
Four months after arriving at Swansea City, young striker Oliver McBurnie is proving a hit with the Under-21 squad.
From League One to SA1, the frontman has exploded onto the Swans scene since completing his summer move from Bradford City netting seven goals this season - his first coming ten minutes into his debut against Brighton.
For strikers, in particular, getting off the mark as early as possible is important.
And the 19-year-old front man admits he is loving every minute of his new life in South Wales.
"Comparing Swansea to Bradford is like two different worlds, but I really like it," says McBurnie.
"The facilities we have here at Fairwood are a million miles away from the ones I have trained at before.
"I am fitting in with all of the lads on and off the pitch. I knew Tom (Holland) and Ryan (Hedges) before coming here, which made it easier for me to settle.
"And to get my first goal so soon into my debut at Brighton was a massive relief. In a way, that goal has given me the confidence to go on and score more.
"Scoring goals is what I have been brought here to do, so the longer it takes you to score the more pressure you are under.
"Thankfully I have got my first one out of the way and will aim to get more from here.
"I am not really a target setter, but if I can score two goals every three games I will take that.
"It will be a lot of hard work, but there is definitely more to come from me here at Swansea and I am looking forward to what the next three years brings."
Despite having a proud Scottish family heritage, McBurnie grew up in Leeds and was part of the Leeds United youth set-up from age six to 14 before a move to Yorkshire rivals Bradford City in 2011.
During his four years at Valley Parade, the striker's talents were recognised by Phil Parkinson, who called on a 17-year-old McBurnie to lead the line for his squad against Rotherham United in 2013.
The 6ft 2in striker went on to make a further 20 appearances for the Bantams first-team before a loan move to Conference side Chester, where he scored five goals in 14 games last term, allowed the target man to gain further first-team experience.
And McBurnie admits the chances he has been given during his fledgling football career have made him a better player and his move to Swansea possible.
"There is no doubt that the first-team experience I have gained has helped my football develop massively," he adds.
"I recommend loan moves as much as I can to other players. Getting that game time in the first-team is vital to become a better footballer.
"Playing category one football for the Under-21s is the highest level we can play at our age but playing in the football league is still a step-up from that.
"You have the chance to play against grown men who have had years of experience. When I was at Bradford and Chester it was like a different game."
In November last year McBurnie's goal-scoring talents were recognised by Ricky Sbragia, who included the striker in his Scotland Under-19 squad.
McBurnie made his debut in the 1-1 draw against Holland and went on to feature in their next three games with the national side, whom narrowly missed out on a spot at the European Championships.
He also earned a recent call-up to the under-21 set up, which underlines his progress at both club and country level.
"My first taste of international football with the under-19s was great," acknowledges the young striker. "Even though I was born and am from Leeds, my family are Scottish and that's how I see myself.
"As Scotland haven't made it to the Euros next summer, I think I will have to adopt Wales as the nation to support due to the fact that I play for Swansea."
If the teenager's CV has not impressed so far, McBurnie also added another string to his bow in 2013 when he was plucked from Bradford to represent Manchester United's youth team on tour in Ireland.
The 19-year-old took full advantage of the unique opportunity to help the Red Devils lift the Milk Cup by scoring five goals and finishing the tournament as top scorer.
The experience also found McBurnie playing alongside Wayne Rooney - in some form at least.
"Playing in the Milk Cup for Manchester United was an experience I really enjoyed and another opportunity for me to learn more," he continues.
"I played alongside the likes of Brazilian international Andreas Pereira, who is on the fringes of their first-team.
"It was an unbelievable experience to train at Carrington. You look around and you have the likes of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Antonio Valencia training just yards from you.
"When we were playing water polo one time, Rooney and Valencia were watching our game.
"They got out of the hot-tub and just joined in! I was a bit star struck at first but it was a good laugh and a surreal experience.
"I haven't had to opportunity to take on any of the Swans first-team at water polo just yet, but I have been lucky enough to train with them at Fairwood.
"Seeing us beat the likes of Manchester United and then training with them a few days later was an amazing experience."
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