After a mixed debut campaign at Craven Cottage and following the departures of Mousa Dembélé and Clint Dempsey – Bryan Ruiz knows that expectations are now even greater.
Having arrived in SW6 on the final day of the 2011 summer transfer window, the Costa Rican’s signing was greeted with much excitement. And rightly so, for here was a player that had scored for fun and wowed crowds for the past two Eredivisie seasons.
As the 2011/12 season gathered pace, the 27-year-old is honest enough to admit that he struggled with the initial transition, however, we saw enough to suggest that the former FC Twente forward could become a key player at Craven Cottage.
A demonstration of that impact was evident in his performances in the defeats of Liverpool and Arsenal, while his two strikes against Everton and Bolton Wanderers are up there with some of Fulham’s greatest.
“I don’t think Fulham fans have seen the best of me yet,” said Bryan to Fultime. “Last season I found it hard at times, and there were a couple of injuries too that didn’t help. Of course, it could have gone better, but I did a few things to show people what I have, and for sure, this season I’ll do my best for the fans.
“Mousa and Clint have both left. They were two players that could do many things on the football pitch. But now we don’t have them, and as a result, I do feel a bit more responsibility on my shoulders.
“But I’ve had pressure before when I was at Twente and it’s the same for the national team – so I don’t mind that kind of pressure. I know that I can make a difference.”
Ruiz was widely recognized as one of the best players plying their trade outside of Europe’s top bracket leagues. In scoring an astonishing 39 goals in 61 for his former club, at times, the player was unplayable.
At the end of his first season in Holland his 24 goals had helped Steve McLaren’s Twente to the Eredivisie title for the first time in their history. Included in that tally was a crucial winning striker against second-placed Ajax and seven goals in the last eight matches.
“That first year was probably the best football I have played in my career so far,” explained Bryan, who was awarded Twente’s player of the season in 2010. “I signed for a team which had never been champions and in my first year I scored 24 goals and we won the league. It was an unforgettable moment.
“It did much for future, suddenly people were taking interest. I enjoyed my time in Holland, but I wanted to play in one of the best leagues in the world. I liked La Liga in Spain and also the Premier League.
“There were teams from both leagues that wanted me, but Fulham was the club that showed the most interest. I admit that I didn’t know a lot about the Club but I watched some videos and talked to people and then I was convinced that Fulham was the best option. It just seemed like a good club and a good place to be.”
Having overcome injury and adjusting to life in England, Ruiz is determined to be a success on the banks of the Thames. Ambitious and steadfast in his desire to be the best he can be, there is no doubt that the 2012/13 campaign is an important one for our number 11.
“I really want to do well for Fulham,” he added. “My first season was a bit hit and miss, but sometimes it takes a while for a new signing to find their feet. I showed what I could do at times and now I am used to the physical demands of the Premier League, I want to repay Fulham for bringing me to England.
“The fans have been very supportive as well. They appreciate good football at Fulham, which is how I like to play and hopefully we will see a lot of that over the rest of the season.”
To read more of Bryan’s insightful feature interview, be sure to pick up your copy of Issue 39 of Fultime magazine which is free to Season Ticket Holders and in store from Wednesday. The latest edition also includes in-depth discussion from Manager Martin Jol, new Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega, Academy Director Huw Jennings and pop sensation Example. We also take you into the home of Kerim Frei and Matthew Briggs and launch part one of the 100 Men That Shaped Fulham Football Club.