Date of birth
Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland international Stephen Ward became the Clarets’ seventh summer signing in August 2014, joining from Wolverhampton Wanderers on a three-year deal.
Dublin-born Ward began his professional career with League of Ireland side Bohemians, scoring 26 goals in 93 appearances in a four-year spell at the club before earning a move to Mick McCarthy’s Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2007 after impressing during a trial spell.
He made an impressive start to life in English football, scoring three times in just six games, earning the Championship Player of the Month Award for February. Ward then went on to feature in all of Wolves’ remaining fixtures as they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League through the 2007 play-offs.
By the 2008/09 season, Ward had switched from a forward to position to playing at left-back and excelled as he helped earn promotion to the Premier League alongside future Burnley team-mates Michael Kightly, Sam Vokes, David Jones and Jason Shackell.
Ward made 94 top-flight appearances between 2009 and 2012 and represented Republic of Ireland at Euro 2012 but following successive relegations and with Wolves in League One, Ward moved on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion for the 2013/14 campaign.
A total of 47 appearances followed as Ward helped the Seagulls reach the play-offs, where they were beaten in the semi-finals by Derby County.
Ward was then brought to Turf Moor on the eve of the Clarets’ return to the Premier League but his first season with the Clarets brought just 10 appearances after a troublesome ankle injury sidelined the defender for most of the campaign.
But after biding his time for a starting berth in the Championship-winning season, Ward broke into the side in December, 2015 as Ben Mee was moved inside to partner Michael Keane at centre-back.
Ward never looked back and made 27 appearances in total, helping to keep 20 clean sheets in a watertight defence.
A month later, he became the first Burnley player to appear at the European Championship finals when he helped Ireland reach the knock-out stages in France.
His importance to the Burnley squad was recognised in October 2016 when the defender signed a new deal until the summer of 2018. And he missed only one Premier League game as Burnley went on to finish the 2016/17 season in 16th in the Premier League.