Tony Mowbray spent the final four years of his playing career under Burley at Portman Road. He then retired to form part of his backroom team after captaining the Tractor Boys to play-off glory at Wembley in 1999.
Just as the days under Bruce Rioch at Middlesbrough during the late 80s laid the first seeds of leadership in Mowbray's thinking, his time working with Burley left him certain of the path he had in mind.
That was a period in the Saltburn-born defender's career which he still looks back on with great affection, referring to Burley as a top manager after achieving relative success at Derby, Southampton and Hearts.
Regardless of what has gone before, however, or the high regard Mowbray has for his opposite number this afternoon, Burley finds himself in charge of a Crystal Palace team propping up the Championship.
Hardly the position of a m a n a g e r i a l great, although Mowbray who suffered his own blip on his CV in his nine months at Celtic is not surprised by anything in football.
C i r c u m - s t a n c e s change. I went to Celtic and believed that if I had gone and won trophies I could have come back and managed anywhere,
It is a career path really.
George probably took a wrong turn somewhere. You have to build it up again.
I have come back to my hometown team and I hope it is a long one back to the glory days. If it is not you might be saying the same about me, asking how did I end up wherever it maybe.
We (Mowbray and Mark Venus) built a reputation for ourselves. We reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, won the Champ i o n s h i p , scored 100 goals two years in a row at West Brom. In my first job at Hibernian we beat the Old Firm, Rangers twice on the bounce.
You are given opportunities because of that. Every club is different.
George went to Hearts and won his first 11 games.
That was going to be the end of the Old Firm but then he left. That's how things can happen.
Regardless of what has happened to Burley's career in recent years, there is no disguising what he achieved during his time at Ipswich.
With Mowbray leading the team from the back, Ipswich finally claimed promotion to the Premier League in 1999 before earning a UEFA Cup place in their first season in the top-flight when Venus, Mowbray's assistant, played left-back.
George is a football man and he wants the ball moved around the pitch. He was brought up under Sir Bobby Robson's team in the 70s, said Mowbray, who likes his own teams to play in a similar manner.
I knew from the age of 22 I wanted to manage.
I used to think about the game constantly. I tried to take that on to the pitch as an organiser and develop an understanding of the game.
Bruce Rioch put the first implants into my mind and George had a reputation of playing open and attractive football and that has stayed with me too.
I would like to build my own legacy in a football team that adopts its own culture and creates a name for itself as becoming a really talented football team that plays open, exciting football.
Mowbray became well known during his time at Ipswich for holding the defence together.
I built a reputation at Ipswich were the fans would sing Arm up, flag up, I think you're offside', he recalled.
It is that sort of steely determination he wants his Middlesbrough team to show from the back, while accepting improvements further forward are essential.
He has identified weaknesses in the way Middlesbrough play during his first 12 days in charge. He now needs to sort them out.
There are things I don't like and I hope the players quickly realise what I expect,
he said. I think they are enjoying it. There's an argument that not much is working at the moment, but I have been pleasantly surprised. They have wanted to come into training.
It is bouncy. A new manager, a new voice can create that. There's an extra competition in training. On a Saturday the though we have to bear the fruits of the week's labour.