There’s nothing like meeting a young man whose star is on the rise.
I’d seen enough of Ryan Sessegnon in the Championship to know that he has all the makings of a special player, but I wanted to know what he’s really like.
What I discovered was a humble, dedicated and clearly very focused guy, who has grabbed the opportunities handed to him with both hands at every stage of his career.
Things aren’t going too well for Fulham currently, but he answered every question with maturity you sometimes wouldn’t expect from an 18-year-old.
Talking about becoming the first player born after the millennium to score in the Premier League came naturally to him, as if he knows it’s just another step in the right direction of his blossoming career.
Speaking to young players in the current era, I’ve found one of the keys to success, is making sure you have the right people around you to help you and guide you.
At Fulham he’s been blessed with some excellent senior players to help him along, and as long as he maintains good people close, I’m sure his life in football will continue to flourish.
For me the most interesting part of the interview was him admitting that he’d like to make his England debut before the end of the season.
It shows a level of ambition I’d not seen from him before, but what was more interesting was him comparing where he’s at to his peers that he’s played with at youth level – Mason Mount, James Maddison and Jadon Sancho.
It shows that competition is fierce in the youth ranks at England level, but it also shows that playing for England is still a special achievement for every player.
Perhaps the World Cup has helped, and seeing what Gareth Southgate’s achievements has meant for the country has shown the young players coming through the ranks what playing for the Three Lions means to every football fan in the country.
But it was great to hear Ryan talking so openly about wanting to play for his country – when I asked him what his ambitions were, they weren’t club-focused, it was country first.
He also raised some points about his upbringing that I found really interesting.
We’ve seen this new generation of players crediting their experience of playing in cages as kids as part of their footballing education, so it was interesting to hear Ryan also making the point.
As well as that, hearing how he had to deal with a certain level of negativity from some friends who said he would never make it was something I didn’t expect to hear.
But being able to not listen to those sorts of people just proves Ryan’s determination to make it at the highest level – and now having met him in person, I’m convinced he’s here to stay.
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