Tim Ream has endured relegation from the English Premier League for the third time in his career, and knows just how difficult a challenge it can be. As Fulham prepares for the grueling task of trying to bounce back for the second time in three seasons, Ream has committed to helping the Cottages make the climb once again.
After being on the bench for most of the season, Ream finished the season on a positive note by captaining the side in final league matches against Manchester United and Newcastle United. Now he hopes to use that as motivation for the grueling year ahead for both Fulham and the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“When given an opportunity I want to perform at my best and I think the last couple of weeks was a proving ground for myself to show that I can still play at a very high level and continue to warrant being given opportunities,” Ream said in a conference call Tuesday.
“Being able to play in front of our fans against Newcastle was fantastic. It was great to see people out in the stadium and chanting and even booing a bit. The passion is slowly coming back and, as players, that pushes us on.”
Ream started the season in Parker’s starting lineup and was also used in cup competitions, but eventually saw his spot replaced with Fulham already playing catchup in the league table. Now with Fulham hoping to make a quick return to the top flight, Ream will once again fight to help them avoid a lengthy stay in the second tier.
The 33-year-old was set to become a free agent on June 30, but revealed that he did sign a new deal for the 2021-22 season. Ream has spent six seasons at Fulham and wants to continue helping the club reach its goals of being a consistent top-flight side.
“In terms of my future, it wasn’t reported but I signed a contract last summer, so I’m contracted and I’m happy to stay with Fulham and play my part,” Ream said.
“I’ve had conversations with [Fulham manager] Scott [Parker] and with the backroom staff and they want me there and I want to be there. I want to play a part and push the team and play as many games as possible to try to earn promotion again.”
Ream is no stranger to the EFL Championship as he will be heading into his eighth season in the grueling second division. After playing two seasons there with Bolton Wanderers from 2013-15, Ream moved to Fulham in the summer of that year and since has become a regular contributor in its push for promotion.
Ream’s best season came in 2019-20, where he totaled 53 appearances across all competitions, a career-high. With a 46-match league schedule and sometimes playing two times in one week, Ream knows what lies in front of him and his Fulham teammates starting this August.
“I joke with friends and family that the Championship takes years off your career,” Ream said. “I’ve said for the past couple years that I feel like I could go until I’m 37-38 [years-old], so imagine if I wasn’t playing in the Championship as long as I have.”
“It’s difficult. It’s one game after another. You’re playing on a Saturday, you’re playing on Tuesday or it’s Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday. So it’s all about taking care of yourself, doing the right things off the field, and making sure you recover properly,” Ream said. And if you do that, and you have a little bit of luck on the way injury-wise you put yourself in a good place to be a big part of a promotion-winning team.”
With his current future locked up at Fulham, Ream’s long-term future could see him return to the league where he started his professional career. The Missouri native began his career with the New York Red Bulls and has been linked in the past with a possible stop back in MLS.
St. Louis SC, one of the league’s newest expansion teams, is set to join MLS in 2023, and with Ream’s familiarity to the area, could be on the radar to join as the final chapter of his playing days.
“It’s on the radar,” Ream said. “I think it’s always on the radar, MLS in general, but for me personally, I still have that drive to stay in England. I love the daily grind and constant pressure of promotion and relegation, of trying to be the best that you can possibly be with consequences where, if you don’t perform, you’re dropped very quickly and someone surpasses you.”
“I’m still in the mindset of trying to beat out 25, 26, 27-year-olds, guys who are six, seven, eight years younger than me, trying to beat them out for a spot in the team at Fulham. Right now that’s my focus.”