Burns fired up for Greek Cup
Nathan Burns talks to Neos Kosmos about AEK's prospects to end a nine year trophy drought
Australian international Nathan Burns and his AEK Athens teammates will take to the field in the Greek Cup Final tonight, hoping to end a nine year trophy drought.
"Winning the final in AEK colours would mean a lot because it's been about nine years since the club last took a trophy and I would love to be a part of AEK history," Burns told Neos Kosmos on the eve of the all important game. AEK, who finished the season third despite a number of internal problems at the club, will go into the final as favourite against Atromitos at the Athens Olympic Stadium.
Playing in front of a large and very vocal AEK contingent is sure to bolster the hopes of the Yellow and Blacks, whose fans are success starved and hungry for a trophy. Burns, in his first season back at the club after a loan spell to Kerkyra last year, knows all too well that AEK supporters are "very passionate about their team." "It's always an honour to go out in front of the thousands of supporters that come every week and we know how much victory in the final would mean to them," Burns said.
A Cup Winners medal would also be an important accolade for the young Australian footballer. "Personally it would be great for me on so many levels, I was lucky to witness the Greek Cup Final two years ago against Olympiakos, which was one of the most insane and emotional games of football I have seen in my life and I feel because I was a part of that team I know the pain we all felt on that day so hopefully we can use that as motivation to win this one," said Burns, referring to AEK's 16-15 loss on penalties two seasons ago, after an incredible 4-4 draw after extra time.
A great deal has changed since then, Burns left and returned to the club, the roster has changed considerably and AEK hired a new coach in Manolo Jimenez. Now with new found confidence, the club is keen to end the season on a high, with a win in the Cup Final and a good placing in the Greek Super League play-offs. "As a team I think we have had a good season, if we win the Cup it will make a big difference," said Burns, who also believes the year has been a good one for him personally.
"Overall I think I have had a good season but I would not say I'm satisfied, I believe I can still bring more to the team and score more goals and play a more senior role, although it has been an improvement from the past years. "I always want to do better and more," he added. For Burns, that would mean being part of tonight's starting line up, something he was not yet assured of when he spoke to Neos Kosmos. "Well the coach isn't giving much away but I'm training hard and hoping for one of the starting positions.
I don't think we will know who is starting until the day of the game," said Burns, adding that even if he doesn't start he will be prepared to come off the bench to play his part. The Socceroo says he has a lot of respect for coach Jimenez. "He has come to the club and brought his ideas and experience from Spain which has influenced the style of the way the team plays."
"I think he was very good for me too, I learnt a lot this year and I feel he still has more to teach me. From the day he came into the team he believed in me and my ability and played me in big games, this gave me the confidence throughout the season." Burns now hopes he can repay that confidence Jimenez and AEK have shown in him by helping the historic club reach a new milestone.
"As footballers we understand that the word AEK means more than just a football team, the club has a rich history and its supporters live and breathe the team, winning this Cup Final would give them the joy they so richly deserve for sticking by their team through good times and bad."
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