Tim Ream may be looking forward to the future with Fulham but, after three-and-a-half years at Bolton Wanderers, the US international has admitted to US Soccer that leaving the club that first gave him a chance in Europe was a far from easy decision.
Ream, 27, turned down Queens Park Rangers last month to make a £1.75 million move to Championship rivals Fulham instead, and now joins Marcus Hahnemann, Eddie Lewis, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Kasey Keller, Eddie Johnson and current midfielder Emerson Hyndman as the latest American to have called Craven Cottage home.
The past exploits of his compatriots were a big factor in his choice of destination but, speaking ahead of the USA’s friendly match against Peru on Friday night in Washington D.C., the 15-times capped defender also acknowledged that moving on from Bolton left him somewhat emotional.
“It was hard. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I spent three and a half years there. Had some lows, had some highs, got relegated and struggled in my first year in the Championship, but all of a sudden things change and you have two really good seasons, the fans vote you Player of the Year two years in a row.
“My last day there, I was the very last one to leave the training ground that Thursday before the transfer went through. I choked up. It was home for me for three-and-a-half years and we met some really great people along the way.”
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Ream originally joined Bolton from the New York Red Bulls in January 2012 for a reported £2.5 million fee and went on to make 126 total appearances for the club, while operating at either centre-half, left-back or even in midfield.
Though he struggled during his first 18 months at the Macron Stadium, the versatile American later found his feet in the Championship and won his second-straight Player of the Year award last term after helping the Trotters escape relegation trouble.
His impressive form also earned him a recall to the US national team after a prolonged absence and, after starting two of the side’s games at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup, he returned to England to find interest in his signature hotting up.
QPR were chasing his signature for a number of weeks but, once London neighbours Fulham emerged as a rival bidder, the former MLS star was convinced that the team once dubbed “Fulhamerica” was the best fit for him.
“The move to Fulham came about pretty quick,” he added. “QPR was interested and then Fulham kind of jumped in at the very last minute.
“Comparing the two clubs and knowing the American guys that have played there before and seeing the success they’ve had, it kind of pushed it over the top for me. It just seemed like a good fit not only for me personally and professionally, but it felt like a family club and that was something that was important to me.”
Ream has so far made a solid start to his Fulham career, beating Sheffield United 3-0 in the Capital One Cup and Rotherham 2-1 in the league in his first two starts, and, if he can keep up the form that made him a fan favourite at Bolton, then it will not take him long to endear himself to supporters of his new club either.