George Burley looking forward to Cypriot challenge
FEW could blame him for calling it a lifestyle choice.
George Burley insists, however, that he has become manager of Cypriot side Apollon Limassol to win things – not just to soak up the sun.
The 55-year-old has been head-hunted, sacked and has resigned during a managerial career which has lasted more than 20 years.
He went through all the emotions that go with promotion, play-offs and relegation during his eight years at Ipswich, has experienced an uneasy relationship with owners (Hearts), had strange job titles (Southampton) and carried the hopes of his home nation (Scotland).
And yet the Scotsman – sacked by Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day 2011 – says he found himself itching to get back into the game following an 18-month break.
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“I know the owner who has just bought the club,” said Burley.
“I’ve been to Cyprus numerous times and watched quite a few games there so instantly the challenge, just as much as the lifestyle, excited me.
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“I can’t wait to get started because this is the longest I have been out of football my entire life and I’ve really missed it.”
Cypriot football is going through a major boom at present. Anorthosis, managed by former Newcastle striker Temuri Ketsbaia at the time, became the first Cypriot side to reach the Champions League group stages in 2008/09.
This season, APOEL Nicosia went one better by reaching the quarter-finals of the competition, knocking out French side Lyon along the way before eventually losing to Real Madrid.
Lomana Lua Lua played in the Cypriot League recently, while Julian Gray and Mark Burchill are the latest Brits to be giving it a go in a division which draw crowds of up to 20,000.
“APOEL did so well in the Champions League last year – that is definitely inspiring for me,” said Burley. “There are some really good teams and some really good players here.
“I have come to one of the smaller clubs – we finished seventh this season – but we’ve got ambition.
“I’ve got to try and build a completely new team which will be interesting. Lots of different nationalities are coming here to play and I will certainly be looking at the English market.”
– Earned a 3-3 draw against Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup (1993)
– Emblem is Olympian God Apollo
– Play in white and blue to represent Greek colours
– 13,000-capacity stadium