From uncertainty to irreplaceable – the remarkable turnaround in Tim Ream’s Fulham career

4 min

Fresh off the back of an impressive World Cup campaign for the USA, veteran centre-back Tim Ream is in the form of his life for Fulham.

The 35-year-old has not missed a minute of Premier League action since being subbed in the 88th minute against Arsenal back in August and has become a crucial part of the Cottagers’ scintillating return to the top-flight.

Ream’s obvious love for Fulham, coupled with full throttle performances and warm charisma have gradually seen him become a cult hero at Craven Cottage since joining nearly eight years ago.

And his considerable efforts have not gone unnoticed by the club either, recently handing him a contract extension until the end of the 2023/24 season with boss Marco Silva describing him as ‘a player that is leading by example.’

It’s a remarkable turnaround for Ream with question marks repeatedly hanging over his ability to perform at the highest level up until last summer.

Having gained promotion back to the top-flight, it looked almost certain that a replacement for Ream would be sought to play alongside Tosin Adarabioyo.

Remarkably though, it was Tosin whose position came under threat from new arrival Issa Diop after Ream discovered some scarcely believable form against a selection of the best attacking players in the world.

Nothing encapsulates Ream’s resurgence more starkly than watching how composed he is at present. In Premier League years gone by, the USA international has lacked confidence with the ball at his feet and appeared nervous, sometimes getting caught in the wrong position.

This season he has developed enough poise and conviction to not only put his foot on the ball and look up, but to give on-rushing attackers the eyes and roll the ball out of their path as well as to spray 40-yard-passes the likes of Virgil van Dijk would be proud of.

Since the World Cup, Fulham have secured maximum points from their three league games to sit seventh in the table, level on points with Liverpool. 

READ MORE: Early signs have Fulham fans believing Premier League survival may finally be possible

This is in no short measure down to Fulham’s number 13, helping the side to a clean sheet at Leicester, repeatedly relieving pressure with simple but effective movement and passing against Southampton and even getting his first Premier League goal in the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Ream’s resurgence is even fueling the notion he is the most revered American to pull on a Fulham shirt – no mean feat when you consider the pedigree of USA internationals to call Craven Cottage home including the likes of Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and Ream’s current team-mate Antonee Robinson.

After joining New York Red Bulls in 2010 from Chicago Fire’s youth set-up, Ream was named defender of the year in his first season with then-manager Hans Backe likening him to Rio Ferdinand with ‘a top-class attitude.’

While Ream may not have followed quite the same path as the former Manchester United and England defender, the spirit Backe touched upon is partly why he is so appreciated at every club he has been at.

Before joining Fulham in August 2015, Ream spent three years at Bolton Wanderers where he went on to make 125 appearances and collect the ‘Player of the Season’ accolade in his final two campaigns – once again underling his ability to click with an adoring fan base.

While the club have yo-yoed between the Championship and Premier League, Ream has been a firm favourite with every manager other than Scott Parker and joins an exclusive club of Fulham players to be promoted to the top-flight three times (Tom Cairney, Neeskens Kebano and Aleksandar Mitrovic the others from the current crop).

Marco Silva’s admiration for Ream is also clear, recently saying: “He has been a really important player for me since I joined the club. 

READ MORE: Channelling Aleksandar Mitrovic’s aggression is Marco Silva’s greatest achievement as Fulham boss

“Last season he started every Championship game, playing 90 minutes in every match apart from one where he came off injured. 

“He played 46 games and this season he has started every game in the Premier League – that shows what a top professional he is. 

“He trains well, keeps improving, is always ready and has a great capacity to recover after games which is not easy at his age.”

How long Ream can continue to perform at the highest level in the twilight of his career remains to be seen but one thing is certain, no-one should write him off just yet.

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