Vamos, Liam Cullen! . . . The Tenby Messi Gets Ready For The Ballon d’Burnley

Liam Cullen of Swansea City. Pic: Getty Images.

Vamos, Liam Cullen! . . . The Tenby Messi Gets Ready For The Ballon d’Burnley

By Rob Carbon

Liam Cullen has a way to go before he becomes a World Cup winner, a global icon, a seven-times winner of the Ballon d’Or and scorer of 793 goals.

But that has not stopped Swansea City fans from dubbing their striker, The Tenby Messi in homage to Argentina’s Lionel.

Vincent Kompany had a number of battles with Messi when he was a player, but now the Burnley manager will have to plan to contain the new Welsh version.

Swans fans have placed a weighty label on Cullen’s shoulders but the 26-year-old has already proved that everything can come to he who waits.

Cullen made it three goals in as many games in his first league start in 16 months for the club he grew up supporting when he hammered home the second in the 4-0 home win over Watford on Friday night.

Now, he hopes to get the chance to shoot down Kompany’s Championship leaders on Monday in a game that could push the Swans back into the play-off places.


“I haven’t heard the manager call me that before, but I’ve seen a couple of comments from fans,” said Cullen, who scored one and made another for strike partner Joel Piroe.

“For anyone to be compared to that guy then you are going to take it. I just laugh about it and I don’t think I am quite as good as him.”

His previous league start at been in August 2021 and last season he went out on loan at League One club Lincoln City as new boss Russell Martin stuck to Piroe and Michael Obafemi as his front two.

But with Obafemi out of favour, Cullen earned his chance and Martin was delighted with the outcome as he delivered the type of performance he has been unable to get out of Obafemi, who was linked with a £10m move to Burnley at the start fo the season.

“They’ve started calling Liam the ‘Tenby Messi’ and he has been incredible. It hasn’t been an easy journey for him, he has been patient, he has persevered and he deserved his chance to start,” said Martin.

“I’m proud of him for his perseverance and his attitude. I’m grateful for him for sticking at it and just being himself. His assist for Joel’s first goal against Watford was outstanding and Joel said to me that Liam is good for him.


“You can see why and they have a nice connection and hopefully they can build on it. The thing with Liam is he’s all in and gives us everything he’s got.”

If he gets the nod to start again then Cullen could find himself playing against a player he came through the Swansea academy with in Welsh international Connor Roberts.

“I watched all his games in the World Cup and I follow what he’s doing because he’s had a similar route to me coming through the Swansea academy. I get on really well with him,” said Cullen.

“There hasn’t been any chat between us yet because we wanted to focus on our games before Monday, but maybe we will talk over the next few days.”

Burnley gave Swansea the run around when they met at Turf Moor with Martin declaring they are “the best team in the league” and they gave us “the toughest afternoon we’ve had this season”.

That game ended in a 4-0 win to Kompany’s side.


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