Vincent Kompany admitted he never dreamed Burnley could achieve Premier League promotion in his first season but said “quicker is better sometimes”.
Burnley defeated promotion-chasing Middlesbrough 2-1 at the Riverside on Good Friday to become the fastest team to secure promotion from the Championship, with seven games of their season remaining.
Asked if he could have dreamed of this outcome, former Man City defender Kompany told Sky Sports: “No. It’s Easter, there’s seven games to go and we are already celebrating.
“We didn’t expect this. We wanted to experience it one day, but we had a different timing on it. Quicker is better sometimes.”
‘Players celebrating like kids!’
Burnley faced a stern test against one of the Championship’s in-form teams on Friday but came out on top to grind out a win over Boro, and Kompany has praised the resilience of his side, who he says are just at the beginning of their journey.
“It hasn’t been easy,” he said. “Days like today happen more than you think, we found a way it was not easy at all. But somehow this season we also ended up on the good end of the game.
“There is a belief in the team, and it is still a team that can improve and that is the exciting part.
“They’re like kids, they’re celebrating like kids and that’s fun to see.”
‘I’m no monster, but players still have to come in tomorrow’
There were scenes of jubilation for the Burnley squad and their travelling fans at the Riverside at full-time, but they have a quick turnaround for their next game as they bid to secure the Championship title.
Kompany’s squad face second-placed Sheffield United at Turf Moor on Monday – live on Sky Sports – and the manager has told his players they can enjoy Friday evening’s celebrations but they will not be getting a day off.
“Tonight they can enjoy but in the morning they still have to come in,” Kompany added. “I’m not a monster, they’ve earned it.
“I’ve experienced these moments myself and I hope the emotional momentum is worth a lot more than anything.
“Celebrate, be happy and then Saturday the coaching staff will be ready, I hope the players will be because it is a big game on Monday.”
Pace: You’re seeing magic coming together
Burnley chairman Alan Pace said it was “a complete surprise” to see the Clarets secure promotion just a year after Premier League relegation.
“It means the world to us right now,” he told Sky Sports. “Vincent has come in and has done a phenomenal job. This team has come together in a way that we could only hope. You can see the benefits of it tonight. This is the beginning of a lot more to come, I hope.
“Kompany’s one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. There will be a lot that we talk about over the years, he’s someone who is very special.
“This is a complete surprise, this was not our plan. Vincent and I spoke during the summer and talked about it in great length. We gave ourselves two to three years [to get promoted, that] was the plan. What you’re seeing is a lot of magic coming together.
“This team is very, very good. You hear Vincent say it every week, they’ve got lots more to prove to themselves and everyone. They’re surprising each and every one of us every day, they’re phenomenal.”
Barnes: This is an end of an era for me at Burnley
Burnley striker Ashley Barnes revealed to Sky Sports after full-time that this was “an end of an era for me as a Burnley player”, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
Barnes, who scored Burnley’s opener on Friday night, has been at Turf Moor since 2014 after signing from Brighton and made 286 appearances for the club with 54 goals to his name.
“After a difficult last season to get relegated and bounce back by going straight back up is phenomenal,” Barnes told Sky Sports.
“I’m a bit emotional because this is my end of an era here as a Burnley player.
“To do that and score that goal for these fans, to give that back to them – I am quite emotional.
“It’s time to move on, it’s just one of those things. I’m delighted for all the staff and all the fans.
“The fans have been through some tough times last season and it was nice to give that back to them.”
Asked if he could be convinced to stay, Barnes added: “It’s not on me, it’s on the club. It is just one of them situations. I will enjoy this and enjoy every moment from now until the end of the season.”