Article on Joe Bryan

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by SullyTexan, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. SullyTexan

    SullyTexan Active Member

    May 16, 2018
  2. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    love to read this, but I'm in a "no-cookies" world
  3. SullyTexan

    SullyTexan Active Member

    May 16, 2018
    Cookie and ice cream free version Mr. HD.

    ‘Fans said I was only picked because my dad saved the boss’s dad’s life’

    Joe Bryan has emerged from shadow of his heart surgeon father to play a key role in Fulham’s Premier League return, he tells Alyson Rudd
    Alyson Rudd
    Friday September 11 2020, 12.01am BST, The Times

    Bryan, who had already scored a free kick from 40 yards, scores again after a well-worked one-two to seal the play-off final for Fulham against Brentford
    Bryan, who had already scored a free kick from 40 yards, scores again after a well-worked one-two to seal the play-off final for Fulham against Brentford

    Joe Bryan was the most fêted player in the world on the first Tuesday of August, scoring not only two goals in the play-off final that were, in effect, worth a combined £150 million, but two quite startlingly gorgeous goals at the end of a tense and cagey affair.

    “Hopefully, people will begin to see I’m quite good at football, perhaps,” the Fulham full back says. Bryan delivers this with an amused, self-deprecating sigh. There were fans, when he was playing for Bristol City, who insisted via social media that he was only ever picked to play out of favouritism.

    In March 2017, Bryan’s father Alan, a heart surgeon, operated on the father of Lee Johnson, Bryan’s manager. Gary Johnson, who had also been manager at Ashton Gate for five years until 2010, recovered well from the heart bypass procedure, leading to headlines stating how grateful Lee was for his defender’s dad saving his own father’s life.

    It is a plot line that would fit into Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s latest baffling, multiverse film but for Bryan it was the start of the trolling.

    “My father operated on my manager’s father,” he recalls. “It was a bit of a strange time. My dad didn’t tell me until afterwards. There was the whole aspect of patient/doctor confidentiality but it came out, not through Dad, and Bristol City got a load of complaints saying it shouldn’t have come out in the press. But it was a nice story, so I just got on with it.

    “I had a few tweets saying: ‘Now I know why you play so many games. Because you’re rubbish. Your dad saved your manager’s dad’s life. You must have gone and said, ‘Play me because my dad saved his life’. I can confirm I did not do that.”

    Right now, he is more likely to read tweets stating he is selected because he scored two wonder goals at Wembley and his performance that evening has boosted his sense of self-worth.

    “I definitely feel more confident,” he says. “It was good to have a real hand in getting the club back to the Premier League. I joined for a decent-sized fee [in August 2018]. It’s nice to repay a bit of faith put in me.”

    His second goal at Wembley was a smooth finish after an elegant one-two with Aleksandar Mitrovic but it was his first goal that will live long in the memory: Bryan scored with a free kick from 40 yards out, beating David Raya, the Brentford goalkeeper, at his near post.

    “We planned it,” he says. “We watched the semi-final and Raya had taken an aggressive position and when we had played them after the restart I did try to catch him out at the near post, but I hit the wall.

    “As soon as we won the free kick in the final, it may sound a bit romantic, but I knew I would score. I had a weird kind of confidence in my ability to execute what we had planned.

    “The manager [Scott Parker] pulled me over and when someone has that confidence in you at that stage of a game it fills you with confidence. I walked back thinking I’d scored it in my own brain but still had to execute it — but I’d basically already scored.”

    It is only a slight myth that the routine was born from his father’s obsession with deceiving goalkeepers by “giving them the eyes”.

    “I was lucky enough to grow up in a big house in the country. We had a big field that was overgrown and Dad mowed it and turned it into a semi-acceptable football area. He bought a couple of goals and every weekend we’d be out there kicking balls around.

    “As a kid I’d like to go in goal and he’d run up and look at one post and then toe-poke it in at the near post and run off yelling about his eyes.”

    Did Joe, the young keeper, fall for it? “Yes, but I don’t know if that was because I was nine years old and we had full-size goals,” Bryan says. “But it gave Dad confidence anyway.”

    As for him being able to give Raya “the eyes” — “I was a little bit too far out to do that.”

    Bryan was educated privately at the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital boys’ school in Bristol, which meant he had options. Those who succeed in sport often do so because they do not have an escape route.

    “I could have gone the A-levels and uni route and become a vet or something like that,” he says, “but I never considered it. I always wanted to be a footballer. I had a very comfortable upbringing but there is a drive inside me and I can’t pinpoint where that has come from.

    “It’s not like football has been an easy ride. I went on loan to Bath City at 19 and got told, ‘Nah, you’re miles off it, you’re nowhere near ready, you’ll never play first-team football.’ ” Did that not make him panic and make him think he could have gone to university but instead he had ended up as a rubbish footballer?

    Bryan shrieks with laughter.

    “It could have done, but no. That’s the sort of thing my dad says to me. ‘You could have gone to uni, son, but actually you’re just a shit footballer.’

    “Uni never appealed to me, studying for four years, getting into debt, and getting pissed for however long. From 14 or 15, I thought, ‘I can be a good footballer, let’s get it done.’

    “I had a strange time at school, I never had a lot of friends. It was a rugby school. I played it for a few years but then everyone grew and I got battered around and then Bristol City stepped in and I left the rugby behind.”

    He flirted with the idea of taking his A levels “but the school said they couldn’t schedule eight sessions of Spanish on one day just for me”, to fit in with his training.

    “Mum used to drive me to training three times a week. They played good cop, bad cop. Dad would say, ‘Oh you were rubbish, you need to work harder’, and Mum would say everything was fine.”

    His dad retired last year, although still consults, and Bryan is aware of the sacrifices made by NHS staff during the pandemic. “It was amazing to see the pain and suffering everyone went through to look after us,” he says. “We are wrapped up in a little ball of cotton wool as footballers and we get paid an obscene amount of money to entertain.”

    It annoyed him at how coiffed players were when football resumed in June. “All the barber shops were shut and first game post lockdown, nine of the players on the pitch had a fresh haircut,” he says. “Couldn’t they have waited? It feeds into the narrative that players think they are above the law.

    “When Boris [Johnson] first announced the lockdown, me and my flatmate shaved our heads. It was a great idea for two weeks and then we got this horrible fluffy half-grown back shaved head.”

    Fulham were relegated in April last year in part because of a breakdown in team spirit and Parker was brought in to improve camaraderie.

    “It’s a slow process. Until about Christmas, it was still a bit edgy. It’s a group of highly charged competitive men and you’re not going to all be mates but if you are all in agreement that you are working towards a common goal then you are in a good place to succeed.”

    Craven Cottage is the location for the first game of the new Premier League campaign when they take on Arsenal. “Hopefully, we can put our marker down,” Bryan says. “We worked so hard to get back here, we need to show what we are capable of.”
    Coach K likes this.
  4. Coach K

    Coach K Active Member

    Jun 26, 2015
    Yeah, they did allude to this during the commentary of either the Semi-Final or the Final. Specifically talking about his intelligence as a player. Really glad they got a deal done for him. I think he deserves it after what he contributed last year. Dont really know how much hes going to help us this year, as his attacking traits may actually end up hurting us against Premier League teams. But heck...goal of the season and seems like a team player. So....
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