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Fulham midfielder Josh Pritchard faces Spurs

last updated Thursday 19th September 2013, 4:40 PM

Fulham midfielder Josh Pritchard
Fulham midfielder
Josh Pritchard
Not one to sit and complain about how homegrown talent has been frozen out of the Barclays Premier League, Josh Pritchard packed his thermals and headed for the Arctic.

There he found sub-zero temperatures, snowstorms, the midnight sun and herds of reindeer on the kind of life-affirming Euro trek that is sure to build character for anyone at the dawn of their career.

From the relative comfort of Fulham reserves, Pritchard accepted an offer to join Tromso on loan in northern Norway. He didn't only get on his bicycle in search of opportunity, he got on his icicle.

Today comes the reward as the 20-year-old prepares to play at White Hart Lane in the Europa League against Tottenham.

'All the young English players want to do is play football in the Premier League,' said Pritchard. 'They need to open their minds, go abroad and discover there's life outside England. There are chances wherever you go.

'I was the same: dead set on playing in the Premier League for Fulham, but there are so many other places with good leagues where you can develop your game.'

Pritchard has been propelled from the banks of the Thames to the top of the world. Tromso is the second largest city inside the Arctic Circle, set on an island amid the fjords and mountains. He arrived on January 8 to find his new home under six feet of snow with darkness around the clock.

'I had been warned, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite so bad,' he said. 'I remember pulling on about four layers of clothes to walk 10 yards to the training ground.

'It was minus six when I arrived, then it dropped to minus 10. When it got really bad, we'd train indoors, but light snow here is not the same as light snow in London.

'One week the snow came down so fast that you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. I'm not kidding - the snowflakes were as big as golf balls. I was shocked but it seemed quite normal to everyone else and the game just carried on. Everyone just deals with it.

'There are polar bears further up north, but I was out driving in the summer when I came across a herd of reindeer walking down the middle of the road. It's not exactly what you're used to when you've been living in London.'

Pritchard has been called up for the Wales Under 21 squad but has yet to make his debut.

He spent a decade playing at right back in Manchester United youth teams before he was released four years ago.

He chose a move to Fulham, where he was converted into a central midfielder and graduated to the reserves before hitting the ceiling which is the subject of such debate. Jon Hill, one of his coaches at United, had been appointed assistant manager of Tromso and persuaded him to follow.

'Jon told me that I'd be playing first-team football and in the Europa League,' said Pritchard. 'I knew him and trusted him but it's gone much better than I hoped. I've played in central midfield, centre back, right back and left back and a couple of times in a more attacking midfield role.'

Tromso have played eight games to reach the Europa League group stages - and have already been knocked out once, 3-2 on aggregate by Besiktas. Pritchard scored the winner in the first game but by the time the second leg came around it was clear the Turks were about to be expelled from the competition, even though the game had to go ahead.

Tromso were on the runway about to leave Istanbul when news of their glamour draw filtered through. 'There were fans on the plane and everyone was going crazy,' said Pritchard. 'I never expected to play in the group stages.

Source Matt Barlow at SportsMail
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