Wynton Rufer believes this is only the beginning for Chris Wood.

Rufer, widely acknowledged as New Zealand's greatest player, feels Wood will go from strength to strength in the English Premier League, despite the increased focus and scrutiny he will come under from opposition clubs.

Wood has made a dream start to the third Premier League stint of his career, scoring Burnley's equaliser at Wembley against Tottenham and the winner against Crystal Palace on his home debut at Turf Moor last weekend.

However, there is a cost. While before, opposing clubs were aware of his talents - after his Leeds exploits - they are now on high alert.


There is less chance of him being caught out, or left free the way he was at Wembley in the 92nd minute. Dossiers will be prepared, plans will be made, and opposition technical staff will painstakingly analyse footage of the 25-year-old. With the stakes so high, nothing will be left to chance, and Wood will find himself more closely marked.

But Rufer, voted Oceania's Player of the Century, is confident Wood will cope as the hurdles get higher.

"You get this level of confidence, where you feel every week, you are going to play well," said Rufer.

"Hopefully that can stay there and if Chris can end the season with, say, 10 goals, then you are in this sphere where you don't really come down. So that's the hope."

It won't be plain sailing for Wood - especially at a modest outfit such as Burnley, who can't compete with the big budgets of most other teams - but Rufer believes Wood is well equipped.

"As long as you are scoring, or you get a few shots on goal and you do all right, and the team is picking up some results, then it's just game to game," said Rufer.

"With his form now, he will be fine for a couple of games. He will be riding a wave right now. Maybe in a few weeks, if they have lost a couple and he hasn't scored, then your legs start getting heavier, you start thinking too much ... but it's all part of the experience. But Chris has the experience; he's already been through a lot to get there and he is very strong mentally."

After being part of New Zealand's historic 1982 World Cup campaign, Rufer spent the next seven years in Switzerland, scoring more than 100 goals for FC Zurich, FC Aarau and Grasshoppers.

But his move to Werder Bremen was a major step up, with the Bundesliga ranked only behind Serie A among European leagues then. They were a big club, said Rufer.

"The season before, they had been knocked out of the European Cup quarter-finals by AC Milan. But I had a great first season and it just clicked. That year, we went to the UEFA Cup semifinals and made the German Cup final."

Rufer netted on his home league debut - like Wood - and scored six goals in his first 13 Bundesliga games. The following season, he scored 19 goals (15 in the league) and a legend was born.

"For me, like it will be for Chris, it was just a fairy tale," said Rufer. "You are living this dream and you are loving it. Because you know reality. Chris knows reality. He has stayed humble and you can tell he knows where he came from, from Auckland and Hamilton, and he is living the dream."

Rufer is also confident Wood will continue to adjust to the paucity of opportunities at the top level.

"You never get a lot of chances, so your concentration has to be so high," said Rufer. "If you switch off for a moment and don't make the most of a chance, that might be it, your last one in a game. But Chris is scoring and he was already doing it last year with Leeds. A few games last year, he had one chance the whole match ... and he scored.

"You always need to improve and work on your game. But he has got everything and he doesn't need to do anything differently. Games will get quicker and more intense, and the pressure goes on when you don't score. But it has happened for him straight away; you just get this confidence and self-belief that 'hey - Kane, Vardy, I'm as good as them'."