Stephen Ward has enjoyed an incredible opening week of the season and hopes to top it off with a happy homecoming at Turf Moor.
Ward scored a stunning goal in the Clarets’ 3-2 victory over Premier League champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge first game up.
And he then signed a contract extension which will keep the defender at Turf Moor until 2019 before being named as one of five Clarets in the Republic of Ireland’s provisional squad for their up-coming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and group leaders Serbia.
Ward’s goal against Chelsea is being talked about as an early goal-of-the-season contender after the defender hit a powerful strike across Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to double Burnley’s early lead.
He said: “Most were expecting us to lump it into the box as there were a lot of bodies in there.
“Ben (Mee) gave me a shout to take the short one, and instinct just takes over.
“Corky played a great ball back to me and it sat up nicely. I hit it and hoped for the best and thankfully it went into the top-right corner.”
The goal was his fourth for the Clarets and equalled his tally of last season. And while it was a special moment for him, the 31-year-old considered the victory for the team as his priority.
“Obviously, we were ecstatic,” he added. “When the fixtures came out people didn’t give us much of a chance going to the champions and it was one we were looking forward to. A couple of things went our way, but I think we capitalised well and we got a great result.”
Stephen Ward's first Premier League goal for the Clarets came against Bournemouth last season
The win at Chelsea means the Clarets have now defeated the reigning champions in all four of their Premier League seasons, and have now won two of their last three Premier League away matches.
And hot on the heels of a first league win at Stamford Bridge since 1971, came confirmation of Ward’s contract extension.
“I’ve been speaking (about a new contract) since the end of last season,” he said.
“It’s a great time to be at the club and there’s a good feeling around the place. Hopefully, we can have a good season like we did last year.”
Ward joined Burnley in August 2014, and has enjoyed two promotions to the Premier League, including the Championship title success in 2015.
He missed only one game last season, having helped Ireland reach the knock-out stages of Euro 2016.
And the former Wolves man remains a key part of Ireland’s plans as they look to clinch a place at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, joining Burnley teammates Robbie Brady, Jon Walters, Jeff Hendrick and Kevin Long in the latest squad announced by Martin O’Neill.
“It’s great. Obviously, there are five of us now, so long may that continue. The lads coming in, not only have they been great for the international side, but they have unbelievable additions for us as well,” said Ward.
And after three bouts of good news, picking up a first Premier League win against West Bromwich Albion at Turf Moor on Saturday would be the perfect way to complete Ward’s week as Sean Dyche’s men look to build on last season’s superb home form.
“We’ve got another massive game on Saturday at home to West Brom,” he added. “Hopefully we can continue the home form we had last year and make this club a seasoned Premier League club.”