HE produced many special moments when playing for Bathurst ’75-Western in his junior years, but on Sunday afternoon Nathan Burns showed he has grown into a man who can shine on the national stage when he created A-League history.
The Blayney native became the first Wellington Phoenix player in the club’s 194 A-League game history to score a hat-trick when he netted three times in his side’s 5-1 win over Melbourne City.
“Yeah, I did know that,” Burns said of the record.
“They told me when I scored two against Newcastle earlier in the season and I said afterwards that we had plenty of time this season to score one because our attacking play means we’ll score plenty of goals.”
The effort continued Burns’ brilliant season thus far for his new club, the attacking midfielder/striker having scored seven goals in eight appearances for Wellington, who have signed him on a two-year deal.
However, Burns’ effort on Sunday was not the first time he had scored a hat-trick in an A-League match.
On January 21, 2007, the former Australian representative scored Adelaide United’s first ever treble. The team on the end of his brilliance on that occasion were the Central Coast Mariners.
Burns’ latest effort saw him take the lead on the A-League’s golden boot table – two clear of Andy Keogh (Perth), Henrique Andrade Silva (Brisbane) and Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory) – and helped Wellington into fifth place on the ladder.
“All round great performance tonight from the boys. First hat-trick for the club,” Burns, who has now scored 20 A-League goals in his career, tweeted.
Burns scored the first goal of his treble in the 34th minute, that strike triggering a flood of Phoenix goals at Westpac Stadium.
Roly Bonevacia added a second six minutes later before Fijian striker Roy Krishna made it three barely a minute after the restart.
Burns had his brace by the 47 minute mark, helping to take the game from nil-all to 4-0 in the space of 20 minutes.
While City managed to get on the board after being awarded a spot kick, Burns did even better.
Burns stepped up to take an 85th minute spot kick and while he found the mark, the referee made him re-take the shot after ruling team-mate Bonevacia had encroached upon the penalty area.
His second attempt was successful as well, the 26-year-old sealing the win for his side in front of a 7,140-strong crowd.
“Yeah, why not? Same spot. Gave me more time to think about the celebrations,” Burns said of the re-take.
After the performance, Burns’ Wellington coach Ernie Merrick backed the talented striker to make a return to Socceroos colours.
The last time Burns represented Australia was as part of the 2011 Asian Cup squad which finished runner-up to Japan in Qatar.
“I think today he wrote himself in. I reckon he’ll be in the Asian Cup squad the way things are going,” Merrick said.
Burns himself was more reserved.
“You never know in football. Sometimes when you think you’ll be selected, you’re not, and other times you don’t think you get in and you do. The most important thing is to focus on what I’m doing here,” he said.
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