STRIKER Luke Varney has returned to Burton Albion as a player/fitness coach.
The 37-year-old has signed a one-year deal with the club and boasts a wealth of Football League experience. He previously played with manager Jake Buxton at both Derby County and the Brewers.
He has spent the last two seasons at League Two side Cheltenham Town, scoring 14 goals in 39 appearances during the 2018/19 season and 7 goals in 23 appearances during the 2019/20 season.
Brewers boss Jake Buxton said: “He’s an experienced player and is still as fit as a fiddle. We are very confident that he can still offer plenty to the squad at this level, both on and off the field.
“He’s been taking up his fitness qualifications and has jumped at the chance to come back here. He will help on a day-to-day basis on the strength and conditioning side of things, as well as being part of the playing squad.
“We’ve spoken about life after football and he has shown a keen desire to remain working in the game.
“He understands his position within the squad and having played with him and witnessed it myself, I know he’ll be a great addition to the changing room as well.”
The Leicester-born striker began his career at non-league side Quorn before joining Crewe Alexandra in 2003.
He has spent most of his career playing at Championship level and counts Charlton Athletic, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth, Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers and Ipswich Town among his former clubs.
Varney also made 30 appearances in the Premier League during the 2010/11 campaign with newly-promoted Blackpool. He scored five goals for The Tangerines, including a winner at Anfield in a 2-1 win over Liverpool.
He made 20 appearances for Burton Albion after signing for the club during the first Sky Bet Championship campaign in 2016/17.
He suffered an early setback on his debut when he suffered a punctured lung and two broken ribs in a freak accident against Watford in the FA Cup. However, after regaining his fitness he helped to defy the odds and keep the club in the Championship when his equaliser at Barnsley secured a second season in the division for the Brewers.
Prior to the expiry of his Brewers contract at the end the 2017/18 season, Varney was handed the captain's armband for a the second-round tie away to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup. He had also scored in the previous round away at Oldham Athletic to help the club secure the glamour tie at Old Trafford.
Now Varney is back with the Brewers and has expressed his delight to have re-signed. He said: “I enjoyed the place during my last spell here. I loved the club and loved the lads as well.
“I’ve had a couple of great years since at Cheltenham and I really feel that I can come back and help all the lads on and off the pitch.
“I was part of a leadership group at Cheltenham and I really bought into that responsibility. With the young lads here at the club, I’ve spoken to the gaffer about how I’m going to try and bring that experience with me to help them and benefit us all.
“I’ve had the discipline to look after myself and I’m raring to go now both on and off the pitch.”