Tim Ream: Thierry Henry "showed me what it is to be a professional"


US men's national team defender Tim Ream, fresh off anchoring English Premier League side Fulham FC's backline in a 3-1 victory over Everton earlier on Saturday, dialed into MLS360 for a Matchday 8 interview.

The studio crew dove in to get the dish on Ream's fantastic season in the EPL, his career beginnings with the New York Red Bulls and what it means for his new hometown club, St. Louis CITY SC, to get off to a blazing start in MLS.

On his long and successful career in Europe – so far, 12 years and 374 matches in England's top two flights – Ream credited the big-name teammates he had in his first two years as a pro with the Red Bulls.

"I think when you look at some of the players that were at the club at the time, just being around the likes of Thierry Henry, the likes of Rafa Márquez, Teemu Tainio, guys who have played in Europe, who played in big leagues, they kind of just showed me what it is to be a professional," said Ream, whose Fulham side are on pace to finish in the top half of the Premier League for the first time since 2011-12.

"I obviously always had the work ethic and the desire to make the jump and move to Europe. But having those guys around and watching them prepare themselves, watching them train, watching them play and being right alongside them, it just took my kind of hunger and desire to move over here to a new level and helped me immensely to understand what it means to be a professional and what it means to take care of yourself."

While Ream has enjoyed mostly consistent playing time in Europe since he first moved to join Bolton Wanderers in 2011, the 2022-23 season has been his most successful year yet – a remarkable feat for his player in his mid-30s.

"I think a few years ago, I worried about what comes next, what's going to happen, what happens after a mistake, what happens after a bad game. ... I don't anymore," said Ream of a mentality shift that's helped not only prolong his career but lift it to new heights.

"It's just being in the moment. Understanding that mistakes are going to be made, there are learning opportunities, and that even at 35 years old, I can still learn something new in this game and still improve every single day, every single training. I treat every training session and every game as if it could be potentially my last one. And I want to make sure that I put everything into it to, you know, if I did have to call it quits and call time of my career, that I would be happy with what I've done."

In addition to sharpening his mind, the St. Louis native has focused on staying in top physical shape: "It's first and foremost taking care of your body. When guys are going out and having a good time, it's making sure that I'm recovering and preparing myself for the next game, even if it is six days away."

Though Ream has been fully dedicated to his own soccer over the last 12 months, even canceling a family trip to Disneyland when he found out he'd made the US roster for the 2022 World Cup, the success of St. Louis CITY has not gone unnoticed.

"I've watched it from afar. I've looked and seen on social media, MLS Season Pass. The city has been crying out for a team. The infrastructure wasn't there, in terms of actual physical building or a stadium, but the youth, the youth clubs, the development has always been there," said Ream, one of two players (Josh Sargent the other) on the US' Qatar squad with St. Louis roots.

"It's no surprise that the appetite was there. And to see it take off the way it has is, again, it's kind of beyond what you could have even imagined."

Fulham's next Premier League match comes April 22 against Leeds United, who boast a bevy of MLS/USMNT veterans – Brendan Aaronson and Tyler Adams to name a few – themselves.