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Hat-trick Hero Gray Ends 2016 On A High

31 December 2016

Andre Gray admits his first Premier League hat-trick was the dream way to finish a near perfect 12 months at Turf Moor.

Gray signed off 2015 with a treble in a 4-0 win over Bristol City which kicked off the Clarets' unbeaten 23-game charge to the Championship title.

And remarkably he repeated the feat as the Clarets brought down 2016 with a stunning 4-1 win over Sunderland to climb to 11th place in the Premier League, nine points above the bottom three at the half-way stage of the season.

"It's been the best year. I couldn't have asked for anything for more and to get a hat-trick on the last day is massive," said Gray after becoming the first Burnley player since Peter Noble hit three against Norwich City in September, 1975 to claim a top-flight hat-trick.

"I'm buzzing. It's an extra thing to add on top of it being a great week for us," added the 25-year-old, who made it four goals in six days after also bagging the winner in the Clarets' Boxing Day win over Middlesbrough.

Andre Grays slots in his second goal against Sunderland

"I think it was three years ago I was playing in non-league.

"I never would have dreamed of scoring a hat-trick in the Premier League three years on. To do that was great.

"The last two games have been massive, playing teams in and around us.

"Obviously there's a long way to go but it's a massive step for us. It gives us a bit of breathing space, but nothing's done yet."

Gray was playing in Conference North for Hinckley United as recently as 2012 before starting his climb up the divisions with Luton Town, Brentford and Burnley - who he led to promotion last season with 25 goals to become the Championship player of the year.

He was joined on the scoresheet against the Black Cats by Ashley Barnes, another to have made the journey from non-league football, who slotted the final goal from the penalty spot as Sean Dyche's men made it three home wins in a row and an impressive seven for the season.

Gray and Ashley Barnes have shared six goals in the last three games

And Barnes was delighted to see his striking side-kick chalk up a major career milestone.

Barnes - who started out at Southern League outfit Paulton Rovers - said: "It was lovely to get on the scoresheet. As a striker that's what you want to do but to see Andre get a hat-trick was fantastic.

"To see where he's come from and to get a hat-trick in the Premier League is different class from him.

"The whole team was magnificent. We knew we were going to cause them the trouble.

"But we have got to dust ourselves down, enjoy it tonight and when we come back to the training ground tomorrow we go again for Monday and a tough game at Manchester City."

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