Harry Wilson interview: After living out of a suitcase, I am proud to finally call Fulham my home

Harry Wilson - Harry Wilson interview: After living out of a suitcase, I am proud to finally call Fulham my home

Harry Wilson was one of Fulham’s stand-out performers last season – Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann

It is not only Hollywood who noticed a sleeping giant in North Wales waiting to be woken. While growing up in Corwen, Harry Wilson saw plenty of talent around him but not so many opportunities. They were a downpour away from the River Dee’s banks bursting and flooding leaving football cancelled for weeks.

Wilson played at the World Cup last season but the journey started with 120-mile round-trips to Liverpool’s Academy. His uncle took him on the terraces of nearby Wrexham and the passion for football has been captured by owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, but the region is relatively isolated from the elite clubs.

After six loan moves where he has often lived out of suitcases, Wilson has found a home in Fulham, where last season he was one of the eye-catching performers in an outstanding campaign. This season has seen a new haircut, changes behind the scenes with new representatives Unique Sports Group, and new expectations.

“You might have thought we would get bullied by teams but that wasn’t the case,” Wilson says. “We weren’t the biggest team but we more than stood up to teams. You look at our set-piece threat from when we were in the Championship, then we adapted really well last year and maybe played a bit longer and direct to Mitro (Aleksandar Mitrovic) and played off that.”

Wilson is now feeling settled after his series of loans. The one constant has been Corwen, in North Wales, where his friends and family still live and he returns when possible. He hopes to one day build an all-weather 4G pitch so the town prone to flooding will always have football, and a place to maximise their talent.

“Where I am from, it is more the opportunity side of things,” Wilson says. “I was lucky, but others didn’t have the support network that I had with parents and grandparents to take them 60 miles down the road or maybe cannot afford it or have the car or can’t get off work.

“Our nearest Premier League teams were over an hour away, our nearest Academy the same. Wrexham was a centre of excellence and that was our nearest professional team. I had to go 15 miles down the road to play for a Sunday League team that led to me getting scouted and going to Liverpool. It is something that can be done and I think I am in the position to do that.”

While he grew up a Liverpool fan, Wilson went regularly to the Racecourse Ground and the return to the English Football League for Wrexham, Wilson believes, has given the area a lift that can expose more players to the professional game.

Ryan Reynolds (right) and Rob McElhenney - Harry Wilson interview: 'After living out of a suitcase, I’m proud to finally call Fulham my home'

Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds (right) and Rob McElhenney have helped transform the fortunes of Wilson’s boyhood side – Getty Images/Matthew Ashton

“When the news broke that Ryan and Rob wanted to buy Wrexham I don’t think anyone could believe it. Why would Hollywood want to buy Wrexham?” he says. “They have really connected the fans with the town and with the club again because for the last 10 years it has been a mess.

“I remember when I used to go as a kid with my uncle. It was so well supported, five or six thousand fans in League Two. They were stuck in the Conference but the fans kept showing up. People from the outside might have things to say, but being from the area and knowing how passionate the fans are it is fantastic to see and has given the area a lift.”

Wilson, 26, finished last season on a high, back in Marco Silva’s team after injury halted the start to his return to the Premier League. His return has coincided with the birth of his first child, Oscar, who arrived just before his form forced him back into a regular place in Fulham’s line-up.

He credits Silva with helping him get the most out of the season. The Portuguese manager has used the midweek time on the training pitches of Motspur Park to get his players fine-tuned to become one of the surprise packages of the Premier League. It is easy to see why he is coveted by other teams when Wilson describes his approach.

Marco Silva - Harry Wilson interview: 'After living out of a suitcase, I’m proud to finally call Fulham my home'

Marco Silva led Fulham to an impressive tenth place finish in the Premier League last season, having won the Championship the previous year – AP/Rui Vieira

“We were Saturday-to-Saturday for most of the season. At least two days before we are looking at how to beat the opposition or counter their threats, trying to play on their weaknesses,” Wilson says. “He is very detailed on every team we play, on the day before the game when we watch the clips you can see he has done his homework on everyone, but is also a big one on focusing on ourselves.”

A year ago, Wilson’s campaign started with a knee injury in pre-season, with his medial collateral ligament damage at one stage putting his World Cup at risk. But he made it to Qatar and eventually showing his best form in the Premier League, which was the result of his progress after Fulham was his sixth loan. It was a phone call with Silva that convinced him Fulham should be a permanent home.

“From the first phone call we had, he told me the way he wants his teams to play and the way he sees me in that team. The aims and the goals of what he wants. We’re lucky we’ve been able to achieve that,” he says. He’s great for the way we train. Every day the intensity is high.

“Not just in the professional life, but in my personal life I wanted to be settled, I didn’t want to be playing for a team for 12 months knowing I was going back to Liverpool. I wanted to settle down somewhere and really be part of a club. I had a few options but after the phone call I knew it was the right move and two years later I feel I definitely made the right decision.”

With Wales, they had the highs of getting a result against Croatia and the lows of the defeats by Armenia and Turkey in the last round of Euro qualifiers. They are getting used to life without Gareth Bale and Joe Allen, the talisman and the midfield maestro of the team. They were also the jokers of the squad. Wilson says it is up to players such as himself to lead the new era.

“I feel we have a really good group of players around my age. We’re not young anymore and we are not at the end of our careers,” he says. “We are in that middle-part of our careers and the balance is really good. We have the experience of Wayne Hennessey and Ben Davies who have been there and done it, and a good core of players on 30 or 40 caps, and new young players showing their quality in training. We complement each other well.”

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