'Defending is an art form' - Why stopping goals is in Burgess' blood

Cameron Burgess applauds fans after the final whistle.

Cameron Burgess applauds fans after the final whistle. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Cameron Burgess has arrived at Ipswich Town via Australia and eight previous clubs. STUART WATSON spoke to the centre-back. 

Cameron Burgess heads clear.

Cameron Burgess heads clear. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Stopping goals is in Cameron Burgess’ blood. 

His grandfather, Campbell Forsyth, was a professional goalkeeper who was capped four times by Scotland and played top-tier football for Southampton during the ‘60s. 

His father, Stuart, had a long career as a professional centre-back, playing in the Scottish top-tier for Falkirk during the late 80s. 

It’s no wonder, then, that Cameron ended up falling in love with the art of defending. 

The 6ft 4in centre-back won more aerial duels than any other defender in the division as Accrington Stanley finished 11th in League One last season. He ranked in the top five for interceptions too. 

“First and foremost it’s about trying to keep the ball out of the net,” said the 25-year-old, who has signed a three-year deal at Portman Road. 

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“I have a roll your sleeves up, work hard and defend mentality. 

“Starting out at Fulham, it was obviously possession-based. I learnt that side of the game and hopefully I can show that I can be calm and composed on the ball. 

“But it’s also about putting your body on the line. 

“Even the best ball playing defenders in the world are equally as good off the ball as they are on it. That art of defending sometimes get overlooked. 

“You see guys like (Giorgio) Chiellini celebrating like mad when they make sliding challenges in the box or blocks on the line. 

"Yes, assists and goals are the things which excite people in football, but clean sheets are always the biggest sense of pride for a defender. 

“If you can cover each others’ mistakes and regularly walk off the pitch with clean sheets then you’re onto a winner.” 

New signing Cameron Burgess warming up at Cheltenham Town.

New signing Cameron Burgess warming up at Cheltenham Town. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Burgess’ journey to this point is an interesting one. 

He started out in Celtic’s academy before his family emigrated to Perth, Australia.  

“I was 10 years old when we moved out there,” he said. “My mum works in oil and gas and it was a straight transfer from what she was doing in Aberdeen. 

“There was a lot of people from different countries. A lot of my mates growing up there were British, so I didn’t lose too much of the accent or where I was from.  

“It definitely mellows you out a bit Oz. Waking up in the sun and getting to do so many different sports was great. The lifestyle was amazing and my family still live out there now.” 

At the age of 16, Burgess boarded a plane on his own to fly to England. His club, ECU Joondalup, had arranged him trials at Aston Villa and Fulham. 

“That club I was at had a good record of getting players pro deals in England,” he said.  

“They'd got Jordan Lyden (now at Swindon) in at Aston Villa, while Ryan Williams had moved over to Fulham, so there was a link with those two clubs.” 

Cameron Burgess on his debut at Cheltenham Town.

Cameron Burgess on his debut at Cheltenham Town. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Burgess got a contract at Fulham and went on to make his senior debut, age 18, at Portman Road on the opening day of the 2014/15 season. 

Ipswich won 2-1 that day, handing a newly-relegated and young Cottagers side a bit of a physical lesson. 

“It was bittersweet to be honest,” he says.  

“That was a tough Mick McCarthy side to play and we had lots of young lads in the team. 

“I never thought my debut was on the cards for that first game at the start of pre-season, but I worked hard and got myself in. 

“We played a diamond and I was at the base of that. 

“The game sort of passed me by if I’m honest. It was a surreal moment. It felt like it lasted about five minutes. 

“But I loved every minute of my time at Fulham.” 

Portsmouth's John Marquis (right) and Accrington Stanley's Cameron Burgess battle for the ball durin

Portsmouth's John Marquis (right) and Accrington Stanley's Cameron Burgess battle for the ball during the Sky Bet League One match at Fratton Park, Portsmouth. Picture date: Sunday May 9, 2021. - Credit: PA

Burgess ended up making just four senior appearances for the West London club. 

He had loan spells at Ross County (SPL), Cheltenham (National League), Oldham and Bury (both League One), before signing for Scunthorpe. 

After suffering a League One relegation with the Iron, he joined League Two side Salford City on loan for the 2019/20 season. Then he stepped back up a level, joining Accrington last summer and subsequently making 48 starts. 

“I feel I’ve matured over the last couple of years and worked out my role in the team,” he said.  

“Experience shapes you as a player. I’ve played a fair few games for my age I think – all different types of styles and levels. 

“You realise what you’re good at, what you’re not so good at, what you want and what you can bring.  

“I’m at a stage now where I can hopefully kick on. I want to go further in my career and Ipswich Town want to go further. Hopefully we can do that together.” 

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Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook has confirmed that new signing Cameron Burgess will go straight into his team at Cheltenham tonight. - Credit: ITFC

Burgess has described himself as a leader and someone who wants to drive standards. He arrived after Lee Evans was made skipper by boss Paul Cook though. 

“I don’t need to be captain to be honest with you,” he said. 

“I can go about my own business the same way. 

“Being captain is obviously a huge honour for anyone, but it’s not something I think about too much to be honest with you. 

“We’ve all got to be leaders and be captains in our own right. 

“There’s a lot of lads to bed in, and it will take time for the club, but hopefully I can help that process. 

“There’s no doubt that it’s a massively talented squad, so hopefully I can try and bring the best out of everyone and get their respect. If I can do that then I’ll be really happy.” 

Town head into Saturday’s home game against AFC Wimbledon still searching for their first win of the campaign following draws against Morecambe and MK Dons, plus defeats to Newport, Burton and Cheltenham. 

"Obviously it takes a little bit of time to get to know everyone's character,” said Burgess, who is one of 16 summer signings.

“We’re slowly now starting to work each other out. We’re meeting each other after training, doing different things and getting to know each other on a personal level.  

“That’s the stage we’re at. I think people are starting to feel comfortable around each other and find their voices in the dressing room. 

“It will take a little bit of time, it’s pretty much a brand new squad, but I don’t think it will take too long. 

“Credit to the manager and his staff. All the lads that have been brought in are the right type of characters – you can see that already. Everyone will train well, there’s no bad eggs, everyone wants to muck in and do the right things. We all get on, both on and off the pitch. 

“It’s just about having a little bit of time to get everybody comfortable and getting everybody on the same page. 

“It’s a really good bunch of lads, similar to what Accrington had last season. That goes a long way. You saw that last season with Accrington.  

“It’s now about getting it all gelled together.” 

Burgess, who has been reunited with his former Stanley team-mate Gary Roberts (now a first team coach) in Suffolk, added: “All the staff here are of the same mould. You want to work for these guys. You buy into it. They’re creating a culture of what they believe and we all really wanted to be part of it. 

“We’ve seen, especially in this league, that if you can string results together it goes a long way. 

“I don’t think we’re too far away. It’s just about getting those finer details and making sure we're clicking at all points of the game. 

“I don’t think we’ve been playing badly at all. There are a lot of positives and I think the majority of people can see that. 

“It is going to take time to get the results to flow, but there is a massive belief that once we do get a couple of wins then we can go on to do some good things this season.” 

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