JAY Rodriguez admitted his first game against boyhood club Burnley felt “weird” but was grateful to the ovation he received from Clarets fans, even after he contributed to knocking them out of the FA Cup.
The striker was named on the bench for Saturday's FA Cup tie, but came on as as first-half substitute for the injured Rickie Lambert with the score at 2-0 to the Saints.
Burnley pulled two back in six second half minutes. But Rodriguez broke Clarets’ hearts with his 10th goal of the season to restore Southampton’s lead.
Adam Lallana added what proved to be the winner, as Kevin Long pulled a late goal back in what Rodriguez acknowledged was an exciting cup contest.
“Not good for the heart!” he smiled.
There was relief at helping his current club progress to the fourth round, but he admitted he had no intention of celebrating his strike, which proved to be a turning point in the game.
“I’ve got to show my respect to Burnley. They brought me a long way, I was with them when I was growing up and it’s where I’m from,” said the Burnley-born England striker, who had a group of 20 friends and family in the crowd.
“I had quite a few friends and family down so it was a nice occasion for them. I haven’t seen them over Christmas so it will be nice to spend time with them now.
“They've come down to see me but they were in the Burnley end.
“They’ll be disappointed with the result but glad to see me playing.
“I had to bide my time to get some minutes but it was a bit earlier than what I’d planned, which was a nice thing.
“But it did feel weird coming on against the lads, especially when you know them all and know what they’re like. It was a good feeling though and nice to see them, and the Burnley fans.”
Of the reception he got from the travelling fans, Rodriguez said: “It was really nice. I appreciated that and I appreciate the support since I’ve moved away.’”