DEON Burton is utilising his playing experience to help Albion’s youngsters forge successful careers of their own.
The former Derby and Sheffield Wednesday striker made over 600 professional appearances in a career that included 119 Premier League outings.
Burton assists Jamie Smith in leading Albion’s PL2 side, as well as nurturing Baggies players based elsewhere in his role as Loans Manager.
With the Club’s 23s buoyant from three successive victories, and a host of Academy products thriving on loan, it has been a busy but rewarding period for the 41-year-old.
“It has been a nice smooth process so far and obviously we started slow but we’ve picked up over the last few weeks which has been good to see,” said Deon.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything better really over the last couple of weeks, the boys have done really well.
“The boys are buying into the system we’re playing with everyone knowing their jobs and responsibilities and it’s working really well at the moment.”
Burton rose to prominence in 1997 with a £1million transfer from Portsmouth to then-Premier League Derby County, where he scored 31 goals. And he hopes to reflect on his own experiences when guiding the Club’s current crop of talent.
“It’s about me getting my point of view across in a way that the players can understand. That comes from the standpoint of me actually being in their position. I’ve been on the pitch and I know what they’re feeling.
“If I get my point across in the right way they take it onboard and it helps them develop.
“The young boys around the first team have done really good and I’ve watched them from afar in previous years. Now I’m seeing them first-hand I’ve been really impressed with what they’ve got.
“As a striker I’m telling them to be hungry and shoot. When I first came in they were very intricate and wanting to pass but I was saying ‘get your shot off and get your goal ratio up’. That’s what you get judged on as a striker.”
In his role as Loans Manager - a title previously held by Head Coach Darren Moore - Burton is tasked with the responsibility of observing and assisting the host of Baggies youngsters plying their trade across the country.
“I’m the middle man between both clubs and keeping everyone informed on what the players are doing,” he explains.
“Even though they are away from the club, they are still our players so it’s about making sure things are right for them and that they are comfortable where they are.
“I go out and watch a game at least once a week, sometimes twice a week, to see first-hand how they are getting on. Basically, I feed that back to the powers that be here, the academy manager and the first-team manager want to know.
“Of course we want them to step up when they return - that’s why they’re out getting their experience - so when they come back they’re ready for first-team football.”