Tom Richards

Monday 11 February 2013 09:00

In getting to know our Academy players a little better we turn the spotlight on to some of the Club's brightest young prospects. This week's focus is left-back Tom Richards.

Tom Richards

Position: Defender

Age: 18

Born: Guildford, England 

Height: 171cm

Weight: 63.4kg

Previous Club: N/A

Strengths: Creating chances, crossing and getting forward

I joined Fulham after playing one game for my county. I actually only came on for just 15 minutes at the end and I played well in that quarter of an hour so Fulham and Reading both approached me afterwards. I came to Fulham for a six-week trial and was signed after that. I suppose it was lucky that my manager at the time threw me on for that short period at the end of the game!

It’s a really exciting time to be part of the Academy. We’ve got players coming from all over the world now because they want to play for Fulham. There’s guys coming over from Sweden, America, France and all these places, and that can only be a good thing. It’s great to play with such talented footballers.

For those who haven’t seen me in action, I play left midfield or left-back. I have a lot of energy and you’ll see me running up and down the flank all the time. I like to get wide and put balls in as I’ve got a good cross on me. But the main thing is that I’ve got loads of energy which I think people notice when they watch me play. I’m quite fast as well.

I know that I’m not guaranteed to play every week because we’ve got good quality in that left-back spot in the Academy; obviously Sean Kavanagh was great there last season. Jordan Evans and I have been rotating a lot this season between left-back and left midfield as we can both play those positions so we know that we’ve got good quality and good energy down that side, regardless of who plays.

That competition is good for my development. I remember last season, at the beginning, I was just playing every week and didn’t have anyone pushing me so when Sean came in it gave me a bit more drive to do well. I definitely think it’s much better to have competition for places.

In terms of my weaknesses as a player, you could say that I need to improve on my defending and my heading. When I joined the Club I was more of an attacker but as I hit 17 I was converted into a left-back because I’d been playing well there. I think my heading is certainly an area that I need to develop and, obviously, my physicality as well. I just need to keep getting in the gym and working on my strength – which has actually been getting better.

In respect to what I want to achieve at Fulham, I’m looking to hopefully get my professional contract next year. But my hopes for the team are that we do well in the FA Youth Cup and, also, we’re in the top league again now which commences in the New Year so it’d be nice to win that as well.

"It wasn't long ago that I was playing Sunday League football, so I'm proof that if you work hard and take your chance then you can fulfil your ambitions."

Tom Richards