Colin Burns

Players arrive in Finland from many different countries, for many different reasons and with many different backgrounds. We’ve covered the Zambians at RoPs, but this post is about a success story from last season.

Colin Burns was in a bit of a pickle when he left the University of Massachusetts. mid ranking and ‘developmental’ players in the US don’t earn much money, and of course they often yearn to play in Europe simply to test themselves, aside from the financial implications. So rather than trudging round the mid-west for a USL team in front of small crowds earning pitiful wages, Burns took a risk and went to Europe to try out for teams there.

It turned out to be quite a big risk. He spent about five months with Partick Thistle, waiting for a work permit while the club paid his living costs and rented a flat for him in Govan. Burns had thought that his Scottish ancestry would help in the work permit application, but unfortunately that wasn’t to be and he had to cut his losses just when he was getting acquainted with Scotland.

He tried out with teams in Denmark, Switzerland and France before eventually landing a contract with the wonderfully named Olimpia Balti of Moldova. The money wasn’t great, but he was playing for a side in a league people cared about, cared so much in fact that his first game came close to being abandoned because of fighting in the stands.

At the end of the season, he had acquitted himself well but wanted to move to a higher profile league. Hard to believe that Finland is the answer for anyone in that situation, but apparently it was, with Seinäjoki 78 of Kakkonen looking for a keeper. Burns signed on, impressed everyone, and quickly moved up to Ykkönen side KPV. Here he did well, again, and has ended up starting the 2008 season at Ljungskile SK, one of the smallest teams ever to play in Allsvenskan.

Once he got to Sweden, however, he was confronted with the problem of FIFA’s transfer rules. He had already played for Sepsi and KPV in 2007, which according to FIFA was part of the 2007-08 season. You can’t play for more than two clubs in a season, so Burns had to lobby for the sensible solution, which was to regard 2007 and 2008 as different seasons. He got his way in the end.

He will battle it out with Michal Slawuta (formerly of FC Lahti) for the number one jersey, and who would bet against him coming out on top? He’s had two years of near constant battles to get this far, and a contract with a top flight club in a good league is about as much as he’d dared hope for when he left the US. Good luck to him.


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