1991. Arsenal are crowned champions of England; John Major was the Prime Minister; Federico Macheda was born; and Graham Alexander made his football league debut.
Since then, via Scunthorpe, Luton and Preston, Burnley’s Mr. Dependable has at last reached his destination. The Premier League.
At 38 years old Alexander, known to his team mates as ‘grandad’, is the oldest outfield player in the Premier League. Yet a new lease of life in his first ever season in England’s top flight has got him playing as if he were a 21 year old again.
Formerly a right back, Alexander now just sits in front of Burnley’s back four. It is a role made famous by Claude Makelele, and a role that Alexander has been a consistent performer in. His continued honesty, hard-work and passion make him an integral part of Owen Coyle’s side.
Noses were turned at Turf Moor when the club shelled out a six figure fee to near neighbours Preston North End for the services of the Coventry born Scottish international. Noses are now being turned at Deepdale, where they have been forced to endure watching as Alexander has been inspirational in Burnley’s promotion to the Premier League and their start to life in one of the world’s richest leagues.
2009. Graham Alexander is showing no signs of slowing down.
‘Grandad’ marked his 100th Burnley appearance and 900th club appearance with a brace in Burnley’s 2-0 triumph over Hull City. A result of massive importance to the Clarets in their return to England’s top flight. The reaction to his second, a 20-yard screamer, proved that his passion is burning as bright as ever.
Goals aside, his performances this season have been as full of life as anyone else in the Burnley side. His desire to chase down men and his knowledge to bellow at his colleagues have been clear for all to witness.
His experience and leadership in battle is no doubt vital to Burnley and he is under no illusions of how much hard work is required to retain his and the Claret’s Premier League status.
Capped forty times by Scotland, he has recently spoke of how he and everyone at the club deserve their shot at the Premier League where ‘there is no better place to play football.’ However he was quick to add that it is now important for everyone to prove themselves at their new level. A surefire sign that no one is getting carried away by Burnley’s success. Their feet are well and truly grounded.
Over a hundred career goals to his name, Alexander notched his latest against Manchester City. A penalty in a thrilling 3-3 draw against the big spenders at Eastlands. The match referee, Stuart Attwell, was eleven years Alexander’s junior.
Some questioned his move to Burnley. Some questioned his ability to step in to the Premier League. But after 61 appearances last season, and his continued presence this, there is certainly no signs that the evergreen Alexander will be proving his doubters right anytime soon.