The March 2018 edition of FourFourTwo magazine ran a “Best Young Players special” and alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Timo Werner was 17 year old left back-cum-left midfielder Ryan Sessegnon born in Roehampton with noise building surrounding his potential as an outsider for the England squad at the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Having made his debut for Fulham at just 16 years old in a league cup match against Leyton Orient, Ryan Sessegnon is approaching 100 appearances for the football club and looked back upon his debut, “Slavisa treated me like any other first team player. Scott Parker was very good with me. He told me to relax and make sure that I enjoyed it. And I did.”
“My target was to be a bit-part player and get a few matches under my belt, but since I made my debut, I’ve been in the team a lot and I’m just thankful that the manager has given me this opportunity.” Ryan displays a humble and focused mindset throughout the feature, much like the boy we’ve come to love at Craven Cottage, he discusses his admiration for Luke Shaw as a style of footballer and remembering the 2006 World Cup singling out Steven Gerrard for his leadership skills.
The boy wonder has accomplished something at 17 years of age that many retired footballers haven’t and that’s success on the international stage. At 15 years old he played for England’s U17s as they were knocked out in the last 16 of the 2016 U17 European Championships but he tasted glory the following year as England’s U19s won the Euros in the summer of 2017. “It was brilliant. I think 2017 was a great year for England’s young teams. There have always been talented players in England, but for whatever reason we haven’t had success in major tournaments.”
“Winning these tournaments and beating some big teams is invaluable experience. Learning to handle the pressure is great for the future, because I’ve already been there and done it. If you get beat at a World Cup, people will remember it, and you have to wait another four years to correct it. With your club, you often have two matches a week, so you can quickly put things right.” He hasn’t been overawed as a professional footballer yet and these moments are clearly contributing to the wonderful start in his career.
An impressive young man and not just with a ball at his feet (although in many ways he impresses you most without the ball), he represents himself and the football club with grace and class – a manner that makes him the perfect product of Fulham Football Club. He talks about being happy to play left back or left midfield with his current enjoyment as a winger “because I can impact the game more in terms of goals and assists.” But most importantly, he understands the importance of continuing his development by playing matches; he shrugs off the talk of a move away with Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United circling, “I made my mind up to stay, months before signing that contract [a three year deal in the summer of 2017 taking him right up to the summer of 2020].” “I knew I’d play more games here than elsewhere, which is important at my age in order to keep developing.”
A fitting way to end the piece. He’s the only player outside of one of Europe’s top five divisions to feature in this special and with the way things are moving, it won’t be much longer until he joins them; lets just home it’s in the white shirts of Fulham with Craven Cottage as his home.