Harrison Reed shares his story with young people

April 11, 2024

Of course, the Easter holidays are a great time to kick back and relax with a game or two of FIFA on the Playstation or Xbox. But yesterday afternoon, rather than just mixing it with avatars of the Premier League's stars, young people who have completed the Behind Every Kick programme got to interact with the real thing.

Fulham's all-action midfielder Harrison Reed logged on to a Zoom call hosted by VSS (Virtual Soccer Schools) to answer Austin, Andrei, Lucas and Shifa's burning questions.

Harrison was making his VSS debut. But he handled the occasion like a seasoned pro, speaking openly and inspirationally about motivation, teamwork, confidence, dealing with pressure and taking opportunities. He even let us in on the secret of what he has for his post-match 'cheat' meal.

To kick us off, Harrison shared his experience as a young player graduating through Southampton's academy and looking to realise his dream of first-team senior football. Taking a loan move to Norwich was a big step. Leaving home for the first time, Harrison explained the nerves he felt moving to a new city and wondering how he'd fit in with a different set of teammates. He recollected how important it was to have the support of his trusted agent and his partner when making the move. They helped him overcome the natural self-doubt that surfaces whenever you leave your comfort zone. Later on, another opportunity arose to go to Blackburn. Harrison wasn't initially keen as it was even further away from his roots, and he wanted to try and make his mark at Southampton. But when the manager there told him he wasn't in his plans, he decided to view Blackburn's offer as a chance to prove himself. He's never really looked back.

Austin, who has aspirations to emulate Harrison's football journey, asked what Harrison's worst setback had been and how he'd recovered from it?
Without hesitation, Harrison recalled the ankle injury that sidelined him at the very time when he felt he was becoming an integral part of the team.
Harrison reflected on how adopting a growth mindset helped him. He decided to use the time he was out to improve his strength and develop his understanding of his position. He worked hard in the gym and studied videos of top midfield players to learn from them. Harrison intended to return an even better player than before the injury. Goal setting in action!

Austin followed up his first heavyweight question with another belter - how does Harrison cope with the expectations fans and media place on him?
Harrison explained that he gives social media a wide berth and instead seeks advice from people he trusts. He grew to recognise that you can't place pressure on yourself all the time. Harrison instead tries to make the most out of every training session, working as hard as possible, enjoying it and trying to grow. Harrison's strategy for dealing with pressure is to prepare as well as he can. Ticking every possible box in his preparation gives him the confidence come match day to know that he's put himself in the best position to go out and smash it. While he acknowledges this will never be enough for some critics, for those who count in his life, it will do just fine.

Lucas was next up to pose a question about the importance of nutrition.  
Harrison gave the analogy of the petrol you put in a car. If you put the right fuel in, then it will take you where you want to go.

Andrei - who articulated his goal of wanting to be the youngest-ever Premier League coach - asked Harrison how managers get their message across in hostile away game atmospheres. Harrison explained the importance of clear communication and how there have been times during his career in the past, when he's gone onto the pitch not fully understanding what was required of him. At Fulham, however, he said, everyone in the team understands their role and that of their teammates. It's no coincidence that Fulham are having such a strong season.

With full-time on the call fast approaching, the final question fell to Shifa. How has Harrison overcome rejection and failure in his career? Harrison explained how he has used it as fuel to prove people wrong. This desire gives him the motivation to try and work harder than everyone else. And even if the rejection at the start of his career was painful, Harrison decided to seek feedback from those making the decisions to help improve his game. Ultimately, he kept believing in himself.

Deep into injury time by now, Harrison wrapped up the call by saying how much he'd enjoyed speaking to the young people present before revealing what food he eats as an occasional treat, win, lose or draw because, as he puts it, 'food is mood'. The answer? A cheeky burger at McDonald's.