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Cameron Burgess: From Portlethen to the English Premier League with Ipswich Town

The Ipswich Town and Australia defender started his footballing journey in the north-east of Scotland.

Cameron Burgess  celebrates after scoring for Ipswich against
Coventry City. Image: Shutterstock.
Cameron Burgess celebrates after scoring for Ipswich against Coventry City. Image: Shutterstock.

Cameron Burgess is preparing for life in the English Premier League with Ipswich Town next season.

The 28-year-old was a key component of Kieran McKenna’s side who clinched promotion from the Championship last weekend to end a 22-year spell outside the top-flight of English football.

But Burgess’ footballing journey began in the north-east of Scotland.

Burgess was born in Aberdeen and grew up in Portlethen until he moved with his family to Perth, Australia at the age of 11.

He was capped at under-18 and under-19 level by Scotland, but switched allegiance to Australia in 2014 and has gone on to represent the Socceroos at senior level – making his debut in a 2-2 draw against Mexico in September last year.

Burgess comes from a strong footballing family. His grandfather Campbell Forsyth played as a goalkeeper for St Mirren, Kilmarnock and Southampton and made four appearances for Scotland in 1964.

His father Stuart Burgess was a defender who played for Albion Rovers, East Fife, Falkirk and Kilmarnock before emigrating to Australia.

The Bruntland Road Porto Sevens team taking part in Champion Street in 2005. Pictured are back row, from left: Ethan Brawley, Craig Archibald, Duncan Barclay, Fraser Angus and Cameron Burgess. Front row: Sam Kiloh, Craig Harrison, Lewis Gordon, Gregor McLaren and Jon Gordon. Image: Gordon Lennox/DC Thomson.

An abundance of early promise

Sam Kiloh, who is an assistant professional at Deeside Golf Club, played alongside Burgess in primary school football for Fishermoss and is delighted to see his former teammate enjoying success with Ipswich.

He said: “Cameron was always one of the best players at our age group, whatever team we played against.

“He stood out and carried pretty much every team he was in, even at Fishermoss.

“He was the type of centre-back you would want in your team.

“He always played centre-back, but he would be everywhere.

“He was always very reliable and would also chip in with goals.”

Kiloh, who has competed on the EuroPro Tour and Pro Golf Tour, added: “Cameron, Fraser Angus and myself were involved in the Aberdeen Select team when we were younger and Cameron was one who would always be straight in the team.

“I broke my leg around that time and wasn’t able to play. I tried to play after that happened, but I never seemed to have the same speed and I lost a bit of interest.

“My dad plays a lot of golf so I would go out and play with him and I started to focus on that.

“I still stay in touch with Cameron.

“When I was playing on the EuroPro Tour, he was at Fulham, so we tried to meet up, but sometimes tee times and his football training would get in the way.

“Last year his dad was back in Aberdeen and he came to Deeside for a golf lesson that Cameron had organised for him.

“Any time I speak to him he seems to be training non-stop, so it was brilliant to see him winning promotion. He has had a really strong season.”

The Fishermoss Primary School team in 2006 after playing against Airyhall at Harlaw Playing Fields. Back row, from left: Jack Middleton, Michael Gunn, Cameron Burgess, Connell Mitchell, Fraser Angus, Andrew Wright and Ben Murray. Front row, from left: Jack Stewart, Craig McPherson, Aiden Stuart, James Palmer, Fraser Barclay and Ryan Stewart. Team mate Sam Kiloh was not in the picture because he broke his leg during the match. Image: Fiona Wilson/DC Thomson.

A meteoric rise with the Tractor Boys

Ipswich’s journey back to the Premier League is all the more remarkable given they only won promotion to the Championship 12 months ago.

Burgess has been there for the back-to-back promotions and, in an interview with the Guardian, he described the past two years as “crazy”.

He said: “It’s been pretty surreal to be fair, I won’t lie.

“It’s been a mad journey so there’s not been a lot of time to reflect.

“It’s been pretty special. To go back-to- back is something crazy that I probably wouldn’t even think about until the day I hang up my boots.”

While living in Aberdeen, Burgess played youth football for Celtic before emigrating to Australia with his family when mum Lindsay got a job in Perth.

In an interview last year ahead of a friendly against England, he said: “My mum was working for a gas company in Aberdeen and it was the same firm in Australia, so it was an opportunity for her to move out there with work.

“Obviously leaving my friends behind was upsetting, but going to Perth felt like a big holiday.

“Then I’m suddenly going to school there, and you think, ‘Right, we’ve actually moved here.’

“Australia is a totally different place. We moved out before the summer began, so it was hot.

“You kind of get into the swing of things quickly as a kid, adapt, get on with it.

“I’ve a lot of close friends that I grew up with from early on. I’ve lots of happy memories.”

Cameron Burgess was a key player for Ipswich Town this season. Image: Shutterstock.

After moving to Australia, he played for ECU Joondalup, before moving to the Fulham academy in the summer of 2012.

During his time with the Craven Cottage club, he had spells on loan at Ross County, Cheltenham Town, Oldham Athletic and Bury, before joining Scunthorpe United in 2017.

He went on loan to Salford City in 2019 for a season before moving to Accrington Stanley.

He made the move to Ipswich in 2021 and has made 40 appearances this season as a vital part of the Tractor Boys side who are heading back to the big time next season.

One 22-year-old Ipswich fan hit the headlines last week in his local newspaper after getting Burgess’ name and number tattooed on his leg after believing the player’s contribution to a memorable campaign had gone “under the radar”.

If Burgess plays for Ipswich next season, he will join a select band of players who have featured in the National League, League Two, League One and the Championship before finally playing in the English Premier League.

Cameron Burgess celebrates after scoring against Coventry City. Image: Shutterstock.

Ipswich’s remarkable success has led to plenty of interest in manager McKenna.

The 37-year-old from Northern Ireland is regarded as one of the brightest young managers in football.

He retired at the age of 22 due to a hip injury, but worked his way up the ranks as a youth coach at Manchester United before eventually becoming part of the first team coaching squad at Old Trafford, and then moving to Ipswich in December 21.

Burgess says McKenna has had a major influence on his career.

He said: “Honestly, he’s incredible.

“There are too many words to use I suppose.

“I’m forever grateful that our paths have crossed and the job he’s done for me personally and for the for the rest of the boys has been nothing short of amazing.

“But as a manager, just the attention to detail, the way he works and how dedicated he is – he’s definitely shown with the results he knows what he’s doing and all the boys in that dressing room trust him 100%.”