Stephen Ward was a surprise goalscorer in Burnley's opening day victory over champions Chelsea, rifling a half-volley past Thibaut Courtois to open his account for the season. Yet an international call-up and new contract with the Clarets only served to extend the "delight" for the left-back.
"I've not scored many like that in my career"
Ward had ended pre-season stating he was "looking forward to the challenge" offered by the signing of former Leeds United full-back Charlie Taylor who is expected to challenge the Republic of Ireland international for a starting berth.
However, Ward was given the nod at Stamford Bridge and rewarded his manager's faith with a crisp effort to score the second of Burnley's three goals as the Clarets ran out 3-2 winners at the Bridge.
The defender admitted, "I've not scored many like that in my career". He explained, "I just took a short free-kick, played a one-two with Corky [Jack Cork], who played a great ball back to me. Thankfully it sat up nicely and ended up in the back of the net."
"I'm delighted to have signed"
Ward's contract was due to expire at the end of the season and manager Sean Dyche has moved quickly to secure the services of the 31-year old for at least another two seasons. The left-back has a 12-month option on the deal that keeps him at the club until June 2019 initially.
After Burnley avoided relegation with ease last season, Ward admitted, “I’m delighted to have signed. It’s just great to be part of a club like this at the minute and hopefully we can have another successful season.”
Since signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 2014, Ward has made 76 appearances for Burnley and his stunner against Chelsea was his fourth for the Clarets. He has also played 43 times for his country, Republic of Ireland, and is set to add to that figure in September after another international call-up.
With World Cup Qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia on the horizon, the Dublin-born defender is set to join clubmates Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Kevin Long and Jonathan Walters on the plane, with the latter set to make his 50th appearance for Ireland.