The day after winning a London Football Awards double and the media are awash with new Ryan Sessegnon stories. The Fulham winger, who was voted the young player of the year and the EFL player of the year in Battersea last night, followed a couple of speeches with a round of press interviews, during which he skillfully swerved the prospect of a Premier League move, stressing that his main focus was helping the Whites win a return to the top flight this season.
Sessegnon told the Daily Telegraph that he hadn’t really considered what might be on the cards if Slavisa Jokanovic’s side didn’t win promotion from the Championship.
I dunno really, to be honest. I’m not too sure. I’m really focused on Fulham at the moment. Championship, Premier League… I want to get us into the Premier League. I just want to keep improving.
He also told the Telegraph football correspondent JJ Bull of how important the club had been in his development.
I love the game. Especially with Fulham, I see the club that’s given me the chance to play in the Premier League, I give it all every game, every training session, I just want my team to play in the Premier League. When I made my debut they had a lot of confidence in me already but they really stepped it up another gear this year.
Sessegnon reveals that he looked up to Luke Shaw and Gareth Bale whilst growing up.
When I was younger I had two players: Luke Shaw and Gareth Bale. When Shaw was at Southampton he was a left-back and I loved watching him bomb up and down the wing, create goals, score goals, so I think I try to emulate that. Gareth Bale same thing really.
The youngster says much of the credit for his meteoric rise has to go to Jokanovic. He told BBC Radio London about his desire to repay the Serbian head coach’s belief in his ability:
For someone to have faith in you at the tender age of 16 is massive. This season he has had total confidence in me and I just want to repay him with my performances. Credit to the gaffer for playing me in a higher position.
My debut season was a good one for me, especially at 16, but I said that I want to improve. That is what I am doing at the moment and I want to keep on going. The way we are playing at the moment has helped me develop as a player.
The football we have been playing, especially in recent weeks, is a very attractive brand and I am grateful to the gaffer that he keeps choosing me.
Confidence isn’t in short supply. Even though James Olley, who was on the judging panel for the awards confirms that Sessegnon shook his head when considering the prospect of a full international call-up, the 17 year-old believes he could be an asset to the England side if Gareth Southgate did find a place for him on the plane to Russia for the World Cup this summer.
Who knows? Theo Walcott did it, Michael Owen did it so I could be ready. If I did get the call, it would be a fantastic achievement. I’ll be ready if I get the call. If I don’t, I’ll be cheering them on the TV hoping they do well. It is nice for the gaffer to say that about me. Who knows? Hopefully it will happen.
2017 was a great year for England’s youth age groups. To win that Under-19s Euros does give you that confidence and knowing how to win a major tournament. If I was to get the call for Russia, I’d know something about tournament football and people say that has often been England’s problem. It is at a lower level but the experience of coming through a tournament successfully can only be a good thing if I get the chance to go up the age groups.