He was a tough rover who always backed himself in a contest and was one of the most courageous footballers to play for the St Kilda Football Club. He set the club record for most number of games at his retirement, with 323 games which was broken by former team-mate Robert Harvey in round 7, 2006. His tough playing style lead to his using of a helmet.
He started his football playing career with the Pines Football Club. His professional career spanned 1987–2003 despite missing most of 2002 with a knee injury, with Burke deciding to retire late in the season, in the Round 18 clash with Richmond, which the Saints won by 80 points. It was also notable for the fact that the coaching panel of Richmond that day included fellow St Kilda teammates Danny Frawley and Stewart Loewe, who stayed on the ground in honour of Burke following his parade lap (with Alex Lloyd's "Amazing" played at the ground).
Burke has been a Director of the St Kilda FC since 2008. he Joined the Board with fellow player Andrew Thompson.
Nathan lives in Sandringham with his wife of 19 years Fiona and their three children Ruby 15, Molly 14 and Alice 12 After Burke's retirement from career football in 2003, he directed his talents into business as a leadership and culture consultant. Burke has now joined the contact centres industry and is currently the Chief Engagement Manager for CallActive.