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Changed Man Andre Aiming High

11 March 2017

Andre Gray admits he’s not the finished article.

But it’s fair to say he’s come a long way on and off the pitch since his last meeting with Liverpool.

Gray scored his first Premier League goal as Burnley sunk the Reds 2-0 at Turf Moor in August.

But the Clarets’ striker had barely had time to take a shower before details of four-year old social media messages came out via the media.

Gray was subsequently charged and banned for four games by the FA due to the homophobic nature of the historic posts.

The 25-year-old also had to attend an FA education course and looks back now on a pivotal few hours as a changed man from his days as a non-league footballer trying to progress from a tough up-bringing in the West Midlands.

Gray said: “It was bitter-sweet. It was a great day, scoring my first goal and winning a game against Liverpool was a massive thing for us.

“But coming off the pitch and seeing them (the Twitter messages) took me back a bit.

“It was pretty hard to deal with, especially knowing what kind of person you actually are now, to have to read back on those kind of things was a difficult time.

“It’s another lesson learned. I think a lot has changed for me in my life in general and knowing I had to look back on that and be reminded of it was a weird feeling.

“I know I offended a lot of people and I knew my wrongs. I’ve had to learn from my mistakes.”

Gray’s journey off the pitch has been mirrored by that on it.

The former Brentford and Luton Town striker has added eight more goals – including seven in the Premier League – since his goal against Liverpool clinched the first of nine home league wins for Burnley. 

“It’s going well at the minute,” he added. “I went a few games without scoring but got the two other day. But it’s about the results now. It’s about our form as a team.”

That form takes Burnley to Liverpool tomorrow well placed in 12th-spot in the Premier League as Sean Dyche’s men look to secure their top-flight status.

Gray has also been mentioned in dispatches for a possible England call-up, following in the footsteps of Turf Moor team-mates Tom Heaton and Michael Keane.

That would represent another big step for the former England C international after he kept his name in the frame with a double in last weekend's defeat at Swansea.

Andre Gray has scored 32 goals in 67 appearances for the Clarets

But the facts show that Harry Kane, Jermain Defoe, Dele Alli and Troy Deeney are the only Englishman to have scored more league goals this season than Gray.

And the Burnley marksman is aiming high as he prepares for a first ever trip to Anfield.

“It’s always been a dream of mine (to play for England),” said Gray.

“Obviously there is a lot of work to get to that and a lot of competition.

“I think someone mentioned I am fighting for a place with people like Harry Kane, which is a lot to live up to. It’s a bit surreal, seeing that going around.

“But I have to keep working hard, keeping my head down and keep score goals.

“I try not to let those things distract me and keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully it will come.

“I know I’ve still got a lot to get better on and I’m no way the finished article. As long as I keep working on that and learning every day, hopefully I can go to the top.”

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