In today’s modern game it is considered a rarity for players to remain at the same club for a significant period of time but Fulham’s Youth Academy boasts a variety of individuals who have worn only black and white.
One such young man is Josh Passley who has now been at the club for six years and is a perfect example of one who is progressing through the ranks. An elegant defender who has versatility on his side, Josh has made great strides in his time at the club, but it has been this season where his career has really gathered momentum.
Having spent previous campaigns moving up through the age groups, the teenager has now become an fundamental part of Kit Symons’ under 18s side, and has also seen his fair share of Development Squad action.
Josh Passley - Defender
At first I found it really hard to make the transition from school boy to full-time footballer as it’s all very different for us. I’ll gladly admit that it took me a while to get used to the routine. I was often turning up late quite a lot to start with but as time went on I found myself becoming more and more used to the system and it all began to seem a lot more normal. I’m definitely a lot more settled now than I was initially.
It’s been really good to have been involved with the Reserves, although it is a big step up from under 18s football. It’s faster and more technical – you have to be more aware of what’s around you on the pitch. It’s always good to get recognition for doing a good job so I’m proud to be playing for the Development Squad with some great players.
I set myself personal targets at the start of every season so this year it was to begin playing with the Reserves regularly which I’m happy to say is happening now. I’ve played six or seven games for them this season which I’m very happy about – it’s good when you actually achieve targets you set yourself. In the next couple of years I’d love to be playing in Fulham’s First Team so that has got to be the next target for me now.
It’s been really pleasing to have been part of such a successful group with the Academy. The Club’s come so far in recent years and we’ve got a really good under 18s side now – it’s great to be part of a winning team. Obviously we’ve got to the Quarter Final of the FA Youth Cup and we’re doing well in the League again this year so it’s good to be a part of that and contribute to the team’s success the best I can.
My career highlight so far was probably winning the Premier League International Festival tournament in Warwick when I was 15. We won our group which had Villarreal in it and then progressed to the Final where we beat West Brom so is it was really great to be part of that.
My main attribute as a player is probably my pace but I’m quite strong as well. I used to be a right-back, in fact I only started playing as a centre-back this season because of injuries to a few players in the team. I think I’ve adapted quite quickly though to the new position. I like playing both roles but I probably prefer playing as a right-back because I enjoy getting forward and it means I get to use my pace a bit more.
My favourite Fulham player is probably Mousa Dembele. He’s just a great all-round player with all his skill and his excellent technique. A lot of us younger players look up to him because you can learn a lot just by watching him play. In world football, the player I look up to most is probably Rio Ferdinand. He’s another one who is a good all-round player; he’s technically gifted and has good strength and good pace too. He conducts himself well on and off the pitch and of course we play in the same position so he’s a great role model.
It’s great when you hear that Fulham fans are taking an interest in all levels of the club. Not just what’s going on with the First Team, but they keep an eye out for the Development Squad’s and the Academy’s results too. I don’t think a lot of clubs could say that about their fans so it is really good to know that the Academy and the other teams have got backing from the fans.