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Burton Albion v Manchester City

Collins reveals what Guardiola said to him after Chelsea loanee conceded NINE goals against Man City

12:02 EAT 23/01/2019
Bradley Collins
The Burton keeper had the busiest day of his career two weeks ago as he prepares for the Carabao Cup second leg on Wednesday with his head held high

For many, conceding nine goals in a game would be an experience to forget, but for Burton Albion goalkeeper Bradley Collins, the 9-0 mauling by Manchester City was an evening to remember.

Collins, who is on loan at Burton from Chelsea, was given a devastating insight into what is required to reach the top level as City ran riot in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final at the Etihad Stadium two weeks ago.

Pep Guardiola showed respect to League One side Burton by fielding a team containing Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane as he secured his joint-biggest win as a manager.

Having knocked out Premier League outfit Burnley, as well as Championship clubs Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough, on their way to meeting City in the last four, Burton were given no chance to cause another upset.

Collins, who is one of 40 Chelsea players out on loan, had only extended his deal at Burton seven days before the City game after establishing himself successfully as the team's first-choice goalkeeper.

The 21-year-old was seen talking to former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Guardiola after the match and insists that, despite the scoreline, it was a day to remember.

"He said; 'tough night?' I simply said 'yes'. Then he proceeded to say what an incredible achievement it was for us to get to the semi-final," Collins told Goal, as he revealed Guardiola's kind words upon a heavy defeat. "He said that we were a credit to ourselves and he said the same to the staff.

"It was nice to have that from him. He could have just enjoyed the goals for himself but no, he had time for us, which was brilliant, when a manager of that stature has respect for us.

"I was thinking 'wow' on the final whistle. That’s the first time in a game situation that I have played against a team who are that good. It just shows the level from here to there. It is incredible, it is really frightening. I really enjoyed it but I was drained at the same time.

"We deserved to be where we were and beat some top teams along the way to the semis, so I think it has been a great run. For me, personally, I wanted them to show us respect and pick their best players. No disrespect to any of their other players, but that’s what they did.

"The front three [Sane, Jesus and Mahrez] and midfield three [De Bruyne, Silva and Gundogan] they put out were all amazing players and that’s what we wanted to test ourselves.

"We are just afraid on the night that we didn’t get anywhere near them. I think if you look at the results this season, the amount of times they have scored five or more goals at home is ridiculous. I know we could maybe have kept the number of goals down on a different night.

"At the end of the day, you have just got to give them credit. They are an impressive team. It was a tough night but one I still enjoyed. I am proud of the boys for getting there.

"I think the second leg is all about pride. Having that bit between your teeth, have pride for yourselves, family, the club and our fans. Who knows when Burton will next be in the semi-final of such a competition? No one knows, we just have to do the club proud."

Burton manager Nigel Clough came out after the game absolving his 21-year-old goalkeeper of any blame, as his side became just the latest in a long line of teams to suffer a heavy defeat to the Premier League champions.

"Compared to last season, when I was in League Two, there’s a lot more quality," he added. "I feel like last year, at Forest Green, prepared me for this year. It was a major, major learning curve last season. Forest Green came up from the National League to League Two. It was my first loan as a youngster.

"For me, it was very tough. I feel like a made a lot of mistakes last year but I feel like I have learned from it and taken it into this year. Now, I feel more comfortable. I feel like I know what I am doing a bit more around men’s players, coaches and the fans.

"You don’t get any of that in academy football. It is tough when you get fans shouting at you. It shouldn’t matter but it does. People working in football lose out on money, mortgages, it is nothing to mess around with. You notice that as soon as you go out on loan.

"When I first went into Forest Green, the keeper who was already there at the time was a fan favourite. I came in there and straight away it was backs against the wall. I didn’t start the season well. Ever since then, there was a certain few people who were on my back and it was my first loan.

"Then, after Christmas, I feel like I just changed it around. I went for it and it seemed to all come together and we survived relegation. The fans got behind me and it was great in the end. I came out of academy football playing 20 games, then I went into men’s football and played 47 games."

It is a big year for Collins, whose deal at Burton expires at the same time as his current Chelsea contract. Like many from the world-class academy at Cobham Training Centre in Surrey, Collins has won a host of trophies.

Two UEFA Youth Leagues, an FA Youth Cup and an Under 21s Premier League champion's medal. He has since racked up more than 1,500 minutes in goal this season, conceding on average just a goal in every game, as he aims to carve his own path.

Collins wasn't discouraged after being discarded by Portsmouth's youth team as a youngster and not being signed when he trained with Southampton, as he looked to play in goal mainly for fun.

It is an attitude that he carries with him today, but he is thankful that he got to watch Petr Cech closer than anyone behind closed doors, with the former Chelsea goalkeeper set to retire from football at the end of the season.

"I think at that age, everyone just wants to play football," said Collins. "I don’t think you think too much into it. I didn’t think about becoming a footballer or like I want to play football in this academy or that academy. I just played football because I enjoyed it.

"That was important, to keep the enjoyment there. I trained with Southampton for three or four weeks. I was just training and happy. I didn’t think about anything else. When Chelsea came in, it was a case of I have to take the opportunity. It was almost like a gut feeling.

"I am not one of those people who was desperately trying to get into an academy, I got the offer and it is a club of huge stature so why would you turn that down? It worked out alright!

"Being at Chelsea, my role model was always Petr Cech. You go to a Chelsea game when I joined and you watched Petr Cech. I didn’t look at him as a keeper and try to copy him. I had Petr Cech around and I wanted to learn from him and I am lucky that he is a really nice guy as well."

From Jamal Blackman, to Nathan Baxter, to Matej Delac; Collins' words are echoed by every goalkeeper to come through Chelsea's academy who appreciated the time Cech spent talking them through their game and that respect for the Czech isn't forgotten.

Meanwhile, where next for Collins in his career as a Chelsea loanee? He is thinking only of a push to get Burton into the play-offs and hopefully back into the Championship.

"Burton went down from the Championship last season, so we have a very, very good squad here. We haven’t quite found the missing piece of the jigsaw, but we are struggling to see out our games. I feel like now we are starting to find it and I hope to find it soon.

"The league is still the most important and always is. It is nice to be in the semi-final and get there but we want to push for the play-offs in the league."

Perhaps ignoring the pressure and looking to enjoy every minute is what will keep Collins robust enough for a long career in professional football.