Kenny Tete deserves all the plaudits coming his way over a peerless performance at Stamford Bridge last night. The right back was everywhere and no finer judge than Gary Neville, who made that position his own over more than a decade in the Premier League, had almost declared him the player of the match before being asked to. But an important display just in front of the Dutch international shouldn’t be overlooked. We shouldn’t handpick individual showings when the collective desire from Fulham was sensational, but this particular player, hassled and harried from the off, sacrificed elements of his individual game for the greater good, set up chances for others, was unlucky not to score himself and hared up and down the wing like his life depended on it. All this would be remarkable, until you remember that the hero in white was Bobby Decordova-Reid.

Decordova-Reid is the antithesis of the flashy, modern footballer. He happily declared earlier this season that he would willingly do a job anywhere that Marco Silva asked him too. That was when he was filling in for Kenny Tete at right back. It is a measure of the Jamaican international’s reliability in a role that remains unfamiliar that he kept a summer signing in Kevin Mbabu out of the side. That Decordova-Reid scored from that position, in a memorable away win at Leeds, shows just how important getting forward is in the modern full back’s armoury – and, as a natural forward, who once scored more than 20 goals in a Championship season for Bristol City, our Jamaican international is no stranger to ghosting late into the box.

Decordova-Reid’s versatility might easily have worked against him. He wasn’t sure about playing up front for Lee Johnson at Ashton Gate and there was a sense that nobody was quite sure what his best position was when he came to Fulham. He scored stunning goals, such as the brilliant mazy dribble that bamboozled the Huddersfield defence at Craven Cottage a few years ago, from all over the pitch but couldn’t nail down a spot in Scott Parker’s starting eleven. The signs of his reliability were there when he slotted in effectively at right wing back and went on to crack in the opener against Liverpool in December 2020, but it felt let it took a change of head coach for Decordova-Reid to be properly appreciated.

And he is now. Silva elevated Decordova-Reid to his leadership group this season and the bubby Bristolian has plenty to offer from beyond the football pitch. He’s an erudite communicator and a thinker about the game – as well as the world we life in. He’s come through difficult times to thrive in the top flight and is part of a trailblazing family. Bobby’s sister, Marsha, was born with nystagmus and is registered blind. She hasn’t let that hold her back as she was an award-winning advocate for a number of charities before being elected to Westminster City Council and becoming the Member of Parliament for Battersea in 2017. She can be regularly seen cheering on her brother at Craven Cottage – and those experiences give Decordova-Reid a broader hinterland than many professional footballers.

What endears you to Decordova-Reid as a fan is his ceaseless work ethic. He’ll run all day for you, doing the unflashy hard yards that will only be recognised by those who’ve played the game. Bobby must be a manager’s dream. It isn’t as if he’s not blessed with prodigious skills, either. Kieran Trippier might still be having nightmares about the flip-flap that sent him towards Wearside at St. James’ Park the other week. Decordova-Reid has a delightful first touch, showcased when he took several balls out of the air surrounded by blue shirts last night, and a handy knack of being in the right place at the right time.

He’s scored several vital goals for Fulham this season, despite being deployed in at least four different positions. His first set the Whites on the way to their first top-flight London derby win in more than thirty matches in the early stages of the game against Brentford in August, following up from close range after Jay Stansfield was unfortunate not to mark his first top flight start with a goal. There was that brilliantly guided goal at Elland Road as well as a wonderful glancing header at Selhurst Park on Boxing Day that ideally illustrated Decordova-Reid’s value as an attacking threat, making a late run to meet a magnificent cross from Aleksandar Mitrovic and a late consolation on that forgettable afternoon against Newcastle. He’s very good in the air for someone who stands just 5ft 5in tall and found the net five times in twenty appearances.

It is no surprise that Decordova-Reid has become an automatic selection on the wing of late for Silva, although it is very good going when you consider the wingers who are awaiting an opportunity on the sidelines (Dan James, Harry Wilson and Manor Solomon amongst them). He turned 30 last week but his desire is undimmed – and you could make a compelling case for the dependable, diminutive wide man being one of those rare players who performers better the higher level he plays at. He’s been outstanding for Jamaica in international football and may yet get to the chance to grace European competition with the Whites should this staggering season continue to improve.

Decordova-Reid isn’t one for self-promotion as he prefers to remain grounded and work hard to improve his game and assist those around him. That’s a tribute to both how humble he still is and his professionalism. It went unremarked last night that another superb showing was his 150th appearance in Fulham colours. It shouldn’t have done. He’s an absolute assist to the club and is the ultimate footballer’s footballer. He’s rightly proud of his family and the wider Fulham family are very pleased to count Decordova-Reid as one of our own. Congratulations on this magnificent milestone, Bobby, thanks for the fabulous memories and we all know there are still many more ahead of you in the future.