The promotion class of 2008/09 was back at Turf Moor as supporters celebrated the start of the Clarets’ 10-year Premier League journey.
Sean Dyche’s side signed off on Sunday with a fourth successive season of top-flight football for the first time in close to half a century already secured.
And the night before, those that led the way via a famous Championship promotion play-off win at Wembley in May, 2009 gathered for a special reunion dinner which brought back together members of Owen Coyle’s legendary squad.
“It’s a whole range of emotions. It’s like things are different but nothing changes,” said captain Steven Caldwell, who was back at Turf Moor for the first time since Boxing Day, 2016 after flying in from his home in Canada.
Defensive colleagues Christian Kalvenes and Steven Caldwell
“Everything looks the same and the feeling is quite emotional to be back here.
“This is special, and these guys are special.
“Watching the videos and chatting to the guys who are here, you realise how special it was.
“It’s great to lift the trophy and experience that at Wembley, but it’s the process of that which is the most special thing.”
Caldwell was joined by Wembley goalscorer Wade Elliott, Brian Jensen, Steven Thompson, Clarke Carlisle, Christian Kalvenes, Stephen Jordan and Steve Jones, while Coyle was also given a warm welcome back.
Goalkeeper Brian 'Beast' Jensen and Wembley wonder Wade Elliott
Graham Alexander – back at Wembley to lead Salford City to promotion to the Football League for the first time on Saturday afternoon – was among those to send a recorded message of good wishes to his former team-mates and the near 400 supporters who attended.
And Caldwell admitted the collective achievements of the 2008/09 season – when the Clarets also went to an epic Carling Cup semi-final against Tottenham – had left one-off memories.
The former central defender, 38, added: “I get asked all the time what my favourite club is and what was the best experience.
“I never like to choose. I had such a fulfilling career, but if I’m brutally honest that season is very hard to beat.
“There were a lot of games with the cup runs as well, because we also got to the last 16 of the FA Cup and played Arsenal, who really performed on the day because we had beaten them in the League Cup.
Centre-back Clarke Carlisle and fellow defender Stephen Jordan
“They were up for it because they knew we were dangerous and that was a fantastic run.
“And then the play-offs, to go to the end of the season and then complete it was really special; the fact it was for Burnley, the challenges we had as a club, the history of the club and the recent past, to get it to where it was and the success it’s gone on to.
“I’m really proud that I was part of that, and I feel like we played a very important part in that.
“It’s nice to see we have a group of players now that embodies the spirit of that team and has a bit more quality than that team and has taken it onto another level, which is always what a good club is about, taking on the history and making it even better.
“I think Burnley are doing that and I love how they are playing with the spirit of the 2009 play-off team.”
Christian Kalvenes and semi-final goalscorer Steven Thompson
Since ending his playing career with Major League Soccer side Toronto FC in July, 2015, Caldwell has stayed in the game in a variety of different roles, including covering the Premier League as part of Canada’s Sport Network Team.
And he is delighted the Clarets have stayed true to their ethos in successfully keeping the Premier League dream alive.
“I watch a lot of Burnley and I was worried at times this season,” said the former Scotland international, who played 119 times for the Clarets.
“But it was the team spirit and that togetherness and that culture that is built within a football club that actually saved Burnley, remembering who they were and getting it back to doing what was the right thing and staying on the process.
“They have a brilliant manager in Sean Dyche and everyone involved, and a great football club that remembered what they were all about.
Manager Owen Coyle
“We talk about this so often in Canada, as a fledgling nation starting to get professional, and what culture and values we want to follow.
“You say 'Burnley', and how they epitomise that way. To have played a part in that and to have been here for three-and-a-half years was really special.
“The successes are great, but when I look back on my career I always think about the process and the different stages of what it meant to get towards winning.
"This club does everything right at the right times and sticks to the true identity of what they are and what they should be.”
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