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Fulham defender Joe Bryan learnt it in the garden

last updated Wednesday 12th August 2020, 2:42 PM


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Fulham defender Joe Bryan
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Fulham defender Joe Bryan was the star man in the play-off final after a clever free-kick sent Fulham to Wembley, but it all started in the south west

The former Bristol City left-back joined the annals of Fulham history with his two goals in the play-off final against Brentford.

Bryan kick-started a memorable win in extra time, wrong footing David Raya in the Bees net by 'giving him the eyes', shaping up to cross from 40-yards out before sneaking it in at the front post.

And his second goal to cap off the win sparked jubilant scenes at an empty Wembley, but the Joe Bryan free-kicks we all know and love, now heading for the Premier League, were of course not moulded in the mean streets of London.

Having risen through the youth ranks at Bristol City and making his debut in 2012, and the left-back has explained how the free-kick routine reminded him of his Dad back in Bristol.

Speaking in an interview with the Athletic, Bryan said: “I was lucky enough to grow up out in the country, with a lot of green fields. My parents had a big garden and we always had a decent-sized goal in it.

“This is why I never really watched much football growing up because most of the time I was out in the garden playing it — me, my dad, my two brothers and my sister. We used to just boot balls around in the garden and dad used to do this thing where, after he’d been working in the garden all afternoon, he’d come over with these big Wellington boots on, and he’d just toe-punt the ball around.

“He’d do this thing where he would look at one corner — like really look at it — and just punt into the other corner and he’d run off going, ‘The eyes, the eyes, the eyes! He’s done him with the eyes!’

“It’s one of those memories that stay with you from when you’re a kid. After the game I started laughing, because someone just mentioned ‘Oh, you gave him the eyes’, and it just made me think of Dad!

“Then I got it in the ear all weekend in Bristol, because I didn’t mention the other people (in his post-match interview) — my mum was like, ‘Why don’t you ever mention me?’ Guys, it’s an interview. It’s not an acceptance speech at the Oscars!”

Bryan admitted that he knew he had to do something special that evening after a season where he was critical of several of his performances.

He said: “It was one of those days where I was thinking, ‘Right, I need to step up tonight, I need to step up tonight. I’m a little bit disappointed with the season. So I need to do something good tonight.’ And yeah, I think I managed that.

“I’m uber-critical of myself. So there’s probably a few too many goals I could probably go, ‘Look, it’s not directly my fault but, positioning-wise, I could have covered it.’

"A few too many moments like that this season… you have seasons like that, you have bad months, days, weeks. I just thought it was time to do something that got me a few pats on the back from the Fulham faithful.”

Bryan, now in his third season at Craven Cottage, has seen a huge shift in the mentality of the squad since Scott Parker's arrival, but admitted that at first he did not fit in well following his move from the Robins.

He was just one new signing in a huge summer of recruitment, which ultimately led to Fulham's demise, and said he didn't enjoy the atmosphere at the club.

“There were a lot of divides and stuff, and I won’t go too much into it, but I’d quite happily say I just didn’t really enjoy it,” he says.

“When you’ve got a good team spirit and a togetherness, that’s just one of the most important things and even when you lose, having that means you’re in a better position to bounce back.

"Whereas when you haven’t got that, and there’s finger-pointing, whispers in the corridors, that kind of thing… it’s just not a very fun thing to be a part of.”





















Source Max Baker at Bristol Live
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