Arsenal appoint Burgess as Head of Elite Performance
Written by Simon Austin — June 21, 2017
ARSENAL have appointed Darren Burgess, Liverpool's former Head of Fitness and Conditioning, as their new Head of Elite Performance.
The Australian, who is currently Head of High Performance at AFL side Port Adelaide, will join Arsenal next month, although he is unlikely to be fully on board before December.
Arsenal have agreed for Burgess to work with Adelaide until the end of the AFL season - which could be September 30th if they reach the final. He will also return to Australia in October and November to "plan and implement the 2017/18 pre-season program" for the club.
The move prompts a "new collaborative partnership with Port Adelaide in a range of areas including sports science, professional development and international growth" and Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis will meet Keith Thomas, his Port Adelaide counterpart, in Australia next month to finalise the details.
Burgess was “handpicked by Arsene Wenger”, according to Adelaide, and his appointment prompts a major reshuffle of the Gunners' performance department. Shad Forsythe is currently Head of Performance, while Colin Lewin is Head of Medical, and Burgess will now head up both departments.
Burgess was Head of Fitness and Conditioning at Liverpool from June 2010 to October 2012. He has been described by Dave Hancock, the former Director of Training and Performance at the New York Knicks, as “exceptionally talented” and “the best GPS guy I have come across in the world”.
Burgess said: “Reaching this decision has been one of the toughest decisions in my professional career. My family loves the lifestyle of Adelaide and more importantly we love everything about the Port Adelaide Football Club.
“The opportunity to return to the English Premier League and work at one of the world’s most successful sporting organisations in Arsenal is an opportunity I simply couldn’t refuse. I look forward to continue having a relationship with Port Adelaide from afar and thank the entire club for their support and many great memories over two stints.”
Port Adelaide CEO Thomas added: "We acknowledge that this is a life changing opportunity for Darren. What we've been able to do is work with Arsenal to enact a transition process which limits any impact or disruption to our football program for this year, and retain Darren's expertise for our 2018 planning.
"We are appreciative of Arsenal's understanding that the integrity of our football program is the absolute priority for our club. To have a club like Arsenal hand pick Darren is testament to the calibre of our personnel, our football program and ultimately our organisation."