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'You only beat yourself up if you harbour regrets'

Guest Brian M

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Guest Brian M

Always seemed like a nice kid with a good head on his shoulders I thought. Good luck to him.


'You only beat yourself up if you harbour regrets'

Burnley's date with Arsenal reminds former Cup winner Jon Harley what might have been, writes Andy Hunter

Friday January 4, 2008

The Guardian

Jon Harley has no regrets as he prepares for an FA Cup date with Arsenal.

There is not the slightest trace of regret in Jon Harley when pressed on what might have been. As a former Chelsea player who emerged through the Stamford Bridge ranks with John Terry, cost Fulham £3.5m and was heralded as a potential England candidate, an impending date with Arsenal offers a bittersweet experience to the Burnley defender. Not that he is inclined to see it that way.

"It would be lovely to be playing Arsenal and Premier League opponents every week but there is no point regretting anything. You only beat yourself up if you harbour regrets," insisted Harley, who is more bothered by Burnley's 3-0 defeat at Blackpool on New Year's Day and a performance so poor it warranted a public apology from the manager, Owen Coyle.

The philosophical stance appears a genuine answer from a genuine man. There is no big-time demeanour to Harley, who is still only 28 and does not have the time or the character for bitterness as he strives for a return to the top flight.

When the draw for the FA Cup third round was made he was as thrilled as any Championship player who has landed a plum tie - "It is the perfect draw," he said of Sunday's contest at Turf Moor - and having lost his place to the former Manchester City player Stephen Jordan in the latter days of Steve Cotterill's reign his spirits have been lifted by the faith that Coyle has shown since arriving from Falkirk in November.

Yet there are harsh realities to life outside the cloistered world of the Premier League and, as he attempts to contain whatever exuberant talent Arsène Wenger sends his way on Sunday, Harley will also be playing for his future. The youthful veteran of 241 league appearances has only six months remaining on his Burnley contract and, although his wish is to remain with the Clarets, his next step is uncertain.

The Maidstone-born defender admitted: "There is a big difference in the Championship which is noticeable off the pitch, especially [compared] to a club like Chelsea, but mainly it is because of the financial aspect. Football-wise you get used to the environment you are in very quickly. Every club I have played for has been completely different but you adapt, and fortunately we try to play football the right way at Burnley and that is a major factor in why I enjoy it here so much.

"My wife is from around here and I have settled, no problem. I enjoy my football at Burnley but I only have a few months to run on my contract so I don't know what is going to happen in the near future. I honestly don't know if I will be staying or not. Nothing has been said on the contract but that seems to be a fact of life outside the Premier League. In the Premier League players start to renegotiate contracts when they have 18 months left on an existing deal and that doesn't happen in our league.

"In the Championship you tend to see contracts running out more regularly, although it is not really an issue for me. As long as I am playing I'm happy. In many respects I am in the shop window at the moment because I don't know if I am staying or going, but I am happy because I am playing."

A lack of regular first-team football persuaded Harley to leave Claudio Ranieri's Chelsea and cross west London to Craven Cottage in August 2001. There were spells at Sheffield United and West Ham prior to moving to Turf Moor in 2005 and winning Burnley's player of the year award in his first season but the visit of Arsenal, a club synonymous not only with cultured football but with a lack of emerging Englishmen, does not leave him bemoaning a lack of native opportunity in the Premier League.

"It is difficult to break through but it kept me on my toes at Chelsea knowing they could always bring in someone else," he said. "When you see a brilliant player like David Bentley having to leave to play regularly in the Premier League that must be a worry, but you cannot knock Arsenal or their scouting policy. Yes, it is frustrating there are no English players coming through at Arsenal but maybe it is equally frustrating for Arsène Wenger."

Harley still has occasional contact with Terry, his fellow Chelsea graduate and current England captain, and retains vivid memories of his high point in the FA Cup, the final victory over Aston Villa in 2000. They also reinforce his glass-half-full attitude.

"I played 90 minutes of every game leading up to it and then I was on the bench for the final but, it's funny, it is not a major disappointment," he insisted. "On the morning of the final I was convinced the fifth sub would be Chris Sutton, but then [Gianluca] Vialli named me and I was chuffed.

"It was the last final at the old Wembley so there was a bit of history attached to that game, plus I contributed a lot to that cup run and so even though I didn't appear in the final I feel I earned my winner's medal."

But a future remains to be written. "I'd love to get back into the Premier League and I'm confident I still can. I still consider myself a young player - I am only 28 and I'm as fit as anyone - but I really don't know what will happen."

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i had high hopes for him when he broke into our team. i remember me and a manyoo supporting mate saying he should be going to the world cup (98 i think it was). my mate thought he was a fantastic player. and he hated every chelsea player. high praise indeed. always seemed a likeable kid. shame it never worked out.

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I liked Jon Harley and really hoped that he would make his name with us. Unfortunately, it was not to be, but at least he has an FA Cup Winners medal to show for his time here.

A decent attitude comes across in that interview, good luck to him - particularly against the Arse this weekend.

Compare and contrast Jon Harley and Jody Morris.

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I, like many others, had such great hopes for Harley, and was sad when it didn't work out. He really had a lot of promise when he first broke through

Clearly a good bloke, which is rare in top flight football, and I hope he scores against the Arse and wins himself a new contract, or a move to a better club. happy0034.gif

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