FORMER Hartlepool United defender Christian Burgess has showed he is as talented off the pitch as he is on it after being nominated for a national education prize.
The bright 22-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Pools, graduates from Teesside University later this year with a First Class BA (Hons) in History, which he completed part-time while playing football.
But to his delight he has also been nominated for a national prize for his dissertation, which was based on German naval expansion prior to the First World War.
Essex-born Burgess transferred his studies from Birmingham to Teesside after his footballing career brought him to the North East when he signed for Championship neighbours Middlesbrough. Pools manager Colin Cooper hoped to bring him back to Victoria Park but this week he signed a four year deal with League One side Peterborough United.
Burgess said: “Teesside University is a really good place to study and to me, education has always been important.
“My parents are both teachers and even when I was younger playing for Arsenal they always emphasised how important education was.
“I’d always acknowledged that football doesn’t work out for everybody, so it was important I had education to fall back on and as I’d started my degree and completed two years at Birmingham, it was an easy decision to continue my studies when I came to Middlesbrough.
“I’d always enjoyed History in school, so it was the logical decision to go on to study something I enjoyed so I’d be more motivated.
“Teesside has some really interesting modules, which I’ve really enjoyed.”
Combining his studies and a career in football has certainly proved a challenge.
He added: “It was definitely challenging during my final year, being on loan at Hartlepool United, we had long trips away to Portsmouth, Bristol and Exeter to name a few, lots of games as well which took up a fair amount of time and took its toll physically.
“Luckily I really enjoyed the modules in my final year, which made it easier to go to the library and get work done and with a bit of organisation, I managed to get to the library most days after training, as well as on my days off and really work hard to try and do as well as I possibly could.”
Completing the degree has also whetted the central defender’s appetite for further study and he has praised the impact of the staff at Teesside University, adding: “The academic staff are very aware of the demands on part-time students and I found they were very helpful with any problems that arose.”
Margaret Hems, head of History in the University’s School of Arts & Media, said: “Christian has been nominated for the Royal Historical Society/History Today prize for best undergraduate dissertation.
“The aim of the prize is to reward quality work by undergraduates with their dissertation, which is now an integral part of most history courses.”
The overall national winner receives a cash prize and an article-length version of their dissertation published in a future edition of History Today magazine.