Date: 15th July 2009 at 5:02pm
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Young 20 year old defender, Richard Eckersley recently turned down a chance to extend his contract with Manchester United despite being on the verge of breaking through into the Red Devils first team.

The Salford-born youngster had played just under a handful of games for the first team since coming through Manchester United’s Academy as a youth player.

However, it was clear his main ambition was to play regular football for a club in the Premier League and that club will now be Burnley FC after signing a four-year deal.

So what are the reasons for this move and why did he spurn the opportunity to play for the current Premier League Champions, arguably the best team in Europe and move to ‘ickle old Burnley?

Speaking to the Official Burnley website, he descibed his move to Burnley as a ‘no brainer’:

‘It’s been a hectic week, but also a very fantastic one. When Burnley came in for me it was an instant decision really and it’s great to be here.When I made my United first-team debut against Spurs I was just craving first-team football. I decided that this season I would either have to go out on loan or leave because I was desperate to play.Manchester United did offer me a new contract, but it was a no-brainer for me to come here.I didn’t have any desire to leave because they are a fantastic club, but I think the time was right to move away.I’d been at United since I was nine, so it was a really hard decision to leave, but my family advised me’

He then further elaborated about the move trying to counteract those inevitable critics who would argue this was a backward move for the young lad:

‘That’s the challenge because when you leave United the only way is down so to speak.I don’t think it’s too much of a downward move though because Burnley are a big club too with unbelievable support. I just need to play now and I’m ready for the challenge. Once you get into the trap between the reserve and first teams it is difficult because you get limited opportunities. I was just desperate to move and face a new challenge’

Eckersley also admitted he had seen how well his former team mate at United, Chris Eagles had done since moving to Turf Moor and confessed to being slightly jealous:

‘It’s been really sudden, so I didn’t get chance to speak to Chris Eagles since yesterday. I had been a bit jealous of him because he was playing week in week out at a good club. When you see that you just want to be a part of it and that’s why I’ve come’

Richard also gave some insight into what sort of player he would be describing himself as a tenacious defender who can play anywhere across the back four, although he primarily sees himself as a right back.

He seems like a young lad with his head screwed on and he would certainly seem to fit the bill as far as Owen Coyle is concerned, who wants players to come to Turf Moor to play football rather than sit on the bench or be a squad player while counting their money in the bank!

Let’s not forget also, this is not a case of a player being released by Manchester United. He was offered a new contract to stay at Old Trafford so it is perhaps even more remarkable that he should be willing to join the Clarets but I am sure we are all glad he has!

Welcome aboard Richard!