Liam Boyce makes his move to England with Burton Albion
LIAM Boyce has become English Championship side Burton Albion's record signing after joining them from Ross County.
The 26-year-old has signed a three-year deal at the Pirelli Stadium for an undisclosed fee that makes him Albion's second successive record signing from the Scottish Premiership outfit, following the arrival of Jackson Irvine last July.
Belfast native Boyce becomes the Brewers' second new arrival of the summer, joining Rochdale midfielder Matty Lund as Nigel Clough looks to bolster his ranks for a second successive season in the Championship.
Boyce scored 23 goals for Ross County in the Scottish Premiership last season and, while it will be the former Cliftonville striker’s first campaign in English football, he has already made a real mark in the SPL.
His 23 league goals last term saw him finish top of the goalscoring charts in Scotland's top flight, above Celtic duo Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele, despite Ross County finishing seventh in the division.
He bagged 20 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions the season before that, with his clinical eye for goal having made him a major target for Clough and the Brewers ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
After days of speculation linking the Brewers with a move for the 26-year-old, Boyce is glad to be able to focus on settling in at Burton Albion and tackling the Championship for the first time. And he will have a familiar face in former Staggies team-mate Irvine to help him settle in.
"I'm absolutely buzzing to finally get it done - there's been a lot of speculation, so now I'm just happy to be here," the Falls Road man told the Burton Mail.
"I kept in touch with Jackson after he came down here. He has done well and it has been a good platform for him to come and play his football. He's been brilliant the past season and I just hope to come in and do the same.
"I want to go to the next level and, no disrespect to Scotland, but the English Championship is a step up in quality and I wanted to come and test myself."
To complement his phenomenal season on the club front, Boyce has forced his way into the reckoning for the North, with manager Michael O’Neill handing him a start in the last two internationals.
Against New Zealand, in a Windsor Park friendly, Boyce grabbed his first goal at international level while he also started the subsequent World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in Baku.
After securing the club-record deal for Boyce, Albion boss Clough said: "He's a good player who can get goals. He was the top scorer in Scotland which, when you consider the incredible season Celtic had, that's some going in itself.
"Liam has done very well there for a couple of seasons and he's a full Northern Ireland international.
"Some people say he's not easy on the eye at times, but he's a good all-round player. He's not blessed with pace, but holds the ball up well and gets in the box.
"If you think of all the chances we created last season then, hopefully, if we can do the same again, he can get on the end of them.”
Boyce began his career at Solitude before an ill-fated move to full-time football and Werder Bremen in Germany. His return to Cliftonville coincided with the most successful period in the club’s history, however, with him helping them to Irish League titles in consecutive seasons.
While Boyce won the Scottish League Cup during his time with Ross County, there was always a sense that truly making it would mean a move to England, and Clough is convinced he has picked the right club to ply his trade.
"He's another late developer and Ross County is proving a good breeding ground for players after him and Jackson Irvine,” the former Sheffield United and Derby County boss added.
"He's the right kind of character and he is desperate to come down and prove himself in England."