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  • Writer's pictureIan Pulczynski

"Gain my rhythm and build momentum" - Tyrese Francois on Fulham and Danish loan move

Being so close to featuring consistently in the Premier League has been the story of Tyrese Francois' career at Fulham. But the Australia U23 international remains committed and is looking at different avenues to help earn him a spot as a week-in-week-out starter one day at Craven Cottage.

Tyrese Francois in action for his Danish club Vejle BK. Image: Tyrese Francois X


The 23-year-old defensive midfielder, who was born in Sydney's southwest, has been at Fulham since 2013. He spent his youth career with the U18s and U21s before officially training with the first-team squad.


The former Camden Tigers junior made his Premier League debut in the final round of the 2020/21 season, playing 14 minutes for an already-relegated Fulham in a 0-2 home loss to Newcastle United at Craven Cottage. Despite filling in at left-back, a position he is not used to, it was a moment to remember for life and motivated him for his future career endeavours.


"I grew up with Fulham, so to put on the jersey and play at Craven Cottage was amazing," he told Front Page Football recently.


"The reason I signed with Fulham in the first place was that they're very family-orientated. The way they looked after my family was amazing. They made sure everything was covered. I know Fulham is not like Manchester United or Liverpool, so there isn't much coverage about them in Australia, but it was a top club for me to grow in.


"It was a dream come true for sure, not only for me but for my family. To play at Craven Cottage, at such a historical stadium, again it was a proud moment not only for me but for my family.


"Funnily enough, I've had two appearances in the Premier League, and I've played as a left-back, which is definitely not my position, but you tell me where to play on the pitch in the Premier League, I will play [there]. It was again another proud moment, and I had my family in the stands which was a really good moment for [them]. Once you're on the pitch, you don't realise the magnitude of what's happening, but when you look back and speak to your family, you realise you've come a long way. It left that taste in my mouth that I wanted more."

Francois also praised the current playing group at Fulham for the 2023/24 Premier League season, as he was training in the senior squad before his loan move away from the UK with the likes of Raul Jimenez, Harry Wilson, Andreas Perriera, Adama Traore, Bernd Leno, and more.

"I was soaking up everything I could, being with them every day in the change rooms, at the gym, on the training pitch," Francois said.


"They're all top footballers but they're also top people as well, which is more important, and they're always there to give out advice and offer help where they can. It's a top team with a lot of great individual players. I was learning as much as I could from them."

The Olyroo is currently based in the Danish city of Vejle after signing for Superliga side Vejle BK in the European winter transfer window. He signed with the vision of securing consistent minutes in a senior environment. So far, despite being away from Craven Cottage, the defensive midfielder is enjoying his time in the Scandinavian country.


"It's been a short period of time, but the biggest shock has been the weather," Francois said about living in Denmark.


"I thought London (the weather) was bad but over here, the days are dark and grey and cold. But other than the weather, everything else has been amazing. The club, first and foremost, have been amazing in trying to help accomodate me with finding a place, finding a car, just those little things that many people don't realise are very helpful.


"As a whole, and I know I've only been here for not that long, but my first impression of Denmark has been positive, and I'm looking forward to the next couple of months."


Francois' main reason for the move to Denmark was to get consistent minutes in a senior environment. Despite going out on loan in 2022 to Croatian side HNK Gorica, his time came to an abrupt end due to injury. But now, having trained with the senior squad at Fulham, he hopes to gain experience that will help him in the long run.


Despite sitting near the bottom of the Danish Superliga table, in the four games Francois has featured in for Vejle, they have kept two clean sheets and collected five points, including a 2-0 home win over Silkeborg IF and a 1-1 draw away to Danish giants Brøndby IF. The Danish league has surprised Francois with its strong fan culture and competitiveness.

"It has caught me a bit surprised (the football in Denmark)," he said.


"The fans are really good and they really get behind the team and create an amazing atmosphere. They have some quality players here, and the teams here are in the Champions League and competing in other European competitions. It looks like it's the number one sport, I might be wrong, but it definitely looks like it.


"In terms of [Vejle], we're in a position where we are fighting to avoid relegation. Since I've been here, [it's been two draws, one win, and one loss], so hopefully we can continue on that, and I think we will be alright.


"Last year was really difficult for me due to injuries. I spent most of 2023 injured so this move was just to get back on the pitch and enjoy football and gain my rhythm and build momentum, and I'll see where that leaves me in the summer. Since being here, the main objective is to help [Vejle] as much as possible but on a personal note it's about playing regular football."

Francois donned the green and gold internationally for Australia at the 2022 U23 AFC Asian Cup in Uzbekistan. Australia finished fourth, losing to eventual champions Saudi Arabia at the Semi-Final stage. The tournament will remain in Francois' mind throughout his playing career, as he felt a sense of regret for not being able to win the it for the country.

 

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"It still frustrates me that we couldn't go all the way because I felt, with the team that we had, we could have won the tournament," he said.


"That tournament for me was about playing regular football and leading the team, I was proud to be captain and we had such a bunch of good boys.


"The way the team and the staff got along was really top level and personally, I felt that was a great tournament, but ultimately we were frustrated that we couldn't win [the whole thing]."


Having represented Australia at youth level, the next step for the Fulham loanee is to don the green and gold for the Socceroos, and it remains a lifelong ambition. Francois was called up to the Australia squad for the international friendlies against New Zealand in 2022 but was only an unused substitute in the Auckland fixture. The motivation remains high to run out onto the pitch as a Socceroo one day.


"That is a dream of mine," Francois said when asked about representing the country at senior level.


"It's a moment that I'm looking forward to and hopefully [can] reach pretty soon. But in order to get there I have to focus on my club football and playing at a level that warrants that, like performing week in, week out, and once that comes up, I hope to stay [with the Socceroos]."


As Francois searches for consistent minutes in a senior environment, it is a reminder that to reach the top, elite level, such as the English Premier League, footballer's must be patient and learn through different avenues or pathways that arise in their career. For the Australia U23 international, he hopes the Denmark adventure can help him gain consistent minutes and a Socceroos cap in the near future.


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