Socceroo Jackson Irvine became a cult hero at Burton Albion and fellow Australian Ryan Edwards is out to do the same at the English League One club.
Edwards left Scottish side Hearts in the off-season to join the Brewers. The midfielder has quickly hit the ground running at the Staffordshire outfit this season and already made 24 appearances, bagging three goals and two assists.
Playing under manager Nigel Clough, the former Olyroo and Young Socceroo is thriving.
"It’s been really good,” he told FTBL. “I signed in July, I had a amazing four years in Scotland so it was a good time to come back to England and the Football League.
"I’ve been enjoying it. The manager’s top quality, it’s been a good start.
"I’m playing regularly so I’m happy. We’re playing a 4-3-3 and in the midfield three we’ve got a good balance in the type of midfielders who’ve been playing.
"I’ve been playing on the right side of midfield and have been more of a box-to-box, number 8 kind of midfielder. Playing a lot of minutes and a lot of high energy, trying to get in the box and score goals, which has happened a couple of times this season, so it’s been good.”
Burton Albion are a small club that was largely unknown until the past decade when they remarkably rose from non-league football all the way to finally reaching the Championship in 2016.
Irvine was the club’s record transfer signing three and a half years ago from Scotland's Ross County and enjoyed a stellar 2016/2017 season at the Pirelli Stadium.
The Socceroo scored 11 goals in 44 appearances, helped them avoid relegation and won the club’s player of the year award before departing for Hull City.
Edwards is on his way to becoming a fan favourite at the Brewers, just like Irvine was.
"The joke at the moment is they like Australians with long hair,” the 26-year-old said.
"I think you find that generally in the UK and Europe, if an Aussie does well at a certain club, they hold you in high regard.
"Jackson’s very similar to most of the Australian players where you’re a good professional, a good person and you’re a hard-worker, and I think they really appreciate that.
"He’s definitely held in high regard at the club, I think he won player of the year here and he made the club a good amount of money as well.
"The recent history of the club has been really good. They had consecutive promotions to the Championship, they stayed up and then unfortunately got relegated.
"It’s a small club, I think the stadium holds 9,000 or 10,000. [But] the fans are quality, they just want to see you perform well and work hard and they clap you off the pitch regardless of the result if you show you’ve given everything.
"The fans are awesome and the club’s run really well. With Nigel Cough being the manager, he’s a legend there, he played for the club and managed the club, came back after Derby and Sheffield United, so he knows the club inside out and runs it really well.
"We’ve got a squad of maybe 18, 19, 20 players so it’s a really, tightknit group. Especially with the amount of games we play, we play pretty much an A-League season by November.
"It’s good playing that hectic schedule of Saturday-Tuesday, so the manager’s been really good at managing the squad. I’m really enjoying it at the moment.”
Born in Singapore and the son of ex-Socceroo Alistair Edwards, Ryan’s career has taken him around the world.
He came through AIS before heading to England to sign for Reading in 2011 at the age of 17.
The midfielder was with the Royals for four seasons, and played first-team football at the Madjeski Stadium, while also spending time with Perth Glory on loan.
Edwards was released by Reading in 2015 and then had four years in Scotland with Patrick Thistle and Hearts.
England’s League One may have a bad reputation in the eyes of some Australian fans, but the cut-throat competition is where many Socceroos have cut their teeth such as Massimo Luongo, Bailey Wright, Lucas Neill and Tim Cahill.
“League One is a good stepping stone,” the ambitious Edwards said.
“You look at Cahill and Aaron Mooy joined the Premier League in their mid to late twenties. It’s something you want to target.
“I’m really enjoying my time on and off the pitch at Burton, so to get promoted into the Championship with them would be fantastic. Long-term you want to go as far as you can.
“Whether that’s in the Championship, it’s always been an ambition of mine to play in Europe one day as well. It’s something to look forward to."
Burton Albion currently sit in mid-table in League One, 14th out of 23 teams, but are just six points below the playoff places.
Edwards his club has the team to push for a playoff spot this season.
“Yeah, within the squad we know we’ve got a good enough squad to challenge for the playoffs,” he said.
“On our day we can more than hold our high against the top teams like the Ipswiches and Rotherhams.
"It’s just a matter of getting the points, which has been difficult because we’ve had some rescheduled games.
“If we win our catch-up games… it’s a target of ours to get into the playoffs as we’re more than good enough."