It may have been a season of frustration for Stephen Arthurworrey, but that has only made the towering centre-half all the more determined to finish his 2011/12 campaign on a high.
A proud Whites player since the age of 10, Arthurworrey has long dreamed of making his First Team bow, and the budding talent was making serious headway after signing a three-year professional deal in October 2011 before establishing himself in Fulham’s Development Squad.
Having garnered comparisons with England international and former Whites defender Chris Smalling, Arthurworrey’s progress seemed meteoric until it was halted by a painful knee injury.
Eight months of suffering from the sidelines followed but, now re-building his fitness with Kit Symons’ Under-18s - who he helped guide to the Premier League Academy Group A title last term - the youngster is champing at the bit to get back on track and add a silver lining to his season.
Stephen Arthurworrey - Defender
It’s brilliant to be back in action after so long out. Even to be back training, not just the matches. Everything is just so much better when you’re fit. I had a meniscus tear in my knee and I rotated it as well, which made it much worse. That has kept me out since last August, so my return has been a long time coming.
At the start of this year I was involved with the Reserves a lot and then I had this injury so haven’t really played much since. I’ve just started playing with the youth team again now, so it’s been a disappointing year, but I’ve always got next season to show what I can do. My first target was, obviously, to come back and make a full recovery. Now I’m looking to get back in the Reserve team again as that’s where I was before the injury.
I’ve been here at Fulham for a long time now and a lot has changed. In my eight years, the staff, the environment, the changing rooms, the medical set up, the education, kits - it’s all completely different, but they have all been changes for the good. It’s good that the Club cares so much about the Academy, and on and off the pitch the Academy is very strong. I’d go as far as to say that the Under-18s side is even better this year than they were last year and the years before.
I have progressed a lot in the time that I’ve been here and now I like to think that I have more than one side to my game. My main attribute is probably winning the ball and passing it long, but I definitely like to try and dominate people in the air too because I’m quite physically imposing. Since coming back from the injury, I haven’t been as dominant as I used to be and I’m a little less keen to go in for stuff, but I think I’m getting that back gradually. Once I’m fully healed, I’m determined to get myself back to the imposing player I like to be.
It’s helpful to watch the First Team closely and my favourite Fulham player at the moment is probably Brede Hangeland, because he does what he does so well. He’s pretty much the man at the back. I can certainly model my game on him because he’s a big lad as well and towers above most strikers. He’s not really known as the quickest, but that’s why it’s all the more important to have good positioning. And when you watch him you can see he’s a leader. Even though Danny Murphy is Captain, you can still see Brede leading from the back and organising the team.
In world football, I like Nemanja Vidic a lot - I try to play in a similar style to him. He does the dirty stuff well and it’s very rare that he doesn’t come out of a tackle with the ball. For Manchester United, people say Rio Ferdinand is the one who can pass and Vidic is the battler, but I like to think I’m developing my game so that I can be a master of both trades.
Away from the football pitch I take my studying seriously and I’m doing a BTEC and some coaching courses at the moment. They are going well, but football is always going to be the most important thing for me. Studying is very important and I make sure I always get it done but, with football, I like to do more than just get things done. I’ll do everything I need to and then go that extra mile.
In terms of the rest of my football career, I’m always working at becoming a better player, but I try not to look too far into the future. I like to focus on what I’m doing now, on the next game and how I’m going to apply myself, then after that the next game and making sure I correct anything that I’ve done wrong. I think it’s really important to work as hard as I can in every training session and, if I keep doing all of those things right then, hopefully, everything else will look after itself.