LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Tim Ream of Bolton looks on during the FA Cup fifth round match between Millwall and Bolton Wanderers at The Den on February 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Professional athletes offer a lot of insights into just what it's like being in their shoes. Usually, they are set in routine and used to their way of life. We were particularly excited about the prospect of speaking to Bolton Wanderers and United States Men's National Team central defender Tim Ream.
You may have heard of how Ream postponed his honeymoon in order to sign with Bolton but we were interested in other details of how his new life in England began including the trial by fire at Millwall and how the Fabrice Muamba incident affected someone who, at that point, had only known him for about two months.
Lion of Vienna Suite: We've heard a lot about how Owen Coyle is a great man-motivator in terms of his coaching style. What has he done to make you feel at home and step your game up to the Premier League level
Tim Ream: The first thing is that he made me feel wanted and made me feel welcome from the get-go. The guys he had on the team already were really good at doing that as well. You know, kinda taking me in and helping me out. After that it was just playing in training and just pushing me to continue to get better and work on my fitness and work on my touch. Just do things quicker has been the biggest thing that he's worked on with me and it's helped out a lot.
LVS: You started your Bolton career by literally being thrown into the Lion's Den at Millwall before making your Premier League debut against Chelsea and Manchester City. What was the trial by fire like?
TR: It was interesting. Going down to Millwall was... you know, I think anybody who is a football fan has seen that movie "Green Street Hooligans" and having that in the back of my mind and having all of the guys on the team saying that it will be a rough crowd. It was definitely a good experience for me. I was able to see what it was really like.
Then first game starting in the Premier League was Chelsea. You always dream of playing those teams but having it be your first league game and going up against Didier Drogba is something I'll never forget. Being thrown in the midfield against Manchester City for my second game, it was a whirlwind first couple of weeks for me. It was something that was either sink or swim and I had to be alert at all times. For the most part I felt like I held my own and did pretty well.
LVS: You've experienced a good amount of Premier League competition so far against the majority of teams in the division. Which team was the most challenging for you as a central defender? Was there a particular player that gave you a tough time?
TR: As a central defender... that's a good question. I'd say I think my toughest game was playing in central midfield against Manchester City and literally having to run around the field with Yaya Toure. I think as a central defender it would have to be my first game. The movement of Drogba and Sturridge running down the line... having Sturridge run at you and then you have Lampard coming from midfield, in that game you had guys running all over the place so I think that was definitely the hardest.
LVS: Naturally, this is a big departure from MLS. How do the fans at the Reebok compare to those at Red Bull Arena?
TR: They're pretty similar. The only difference is that at the Reebok, every fan gets into the chants and cheers. At Red Bull, you have the one section -- well, two or three sections behind the south end goal -- that are cheering the whole game. Both sets of fans are passionate about their team and want their team to win and push their team on. But like I said, the biggest difference is that everybody at the Reebok is up on their feet and loud the whole game.
LVS: What was the most difficult part of the transition from MLS to the Premier League?
TR: I think the most difficult part was off the field. You know, settling in and getting everything over here, and feeling like you were making a home for yourself. On the field, I think it was the pace of the game. There are so many good players at every position on every team that you can't go to sleep for a second or else you're going to get punished. I had to be awake the entire 90 mins instead of shutting off.
LVS: Does the decreased travel time (given that you don't have to fly to LA for matches anymore) affect how you prepare for matches?
TR: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's more mental than anything. You don't have to worry about the six or seven hour flights all the way to the west coast. That takes a lot out of your body whether you realize it or not and travelling the day before and getting up and playing the next day. In MLS, by the time the season is wrapping up, it's really taken a toll. It's nice to be able to take a train or a bus here and only travel two or three hours to games. You feel much more ready to go and refreshed than if you were flying.
LVS: There have been a couple of occasions this year where you've been asked to play more of a midfield role as opposed to your normal place in central defense. Are you comfortable in that position? Where do you feel that you contribute more?
TR: I wouldn't say I'm comfortable in that position but I know how to play the position. It's not the spot that I prefer. I defintely feel like I contribute more as a central defender. I'm one of those guys that will play wherever need be. If a guy is injured and we have plenty of center backs that can come in I'll slide out somewhere or slide up and do whatever I can to help out.
LVS: What happened to Fabrice Muamba was obviously a big shock to the entire sports world. How did that affect your settling into the club?
TR: I think it fast-tracked it. Watching a teammate go down, I think all the guys came together really well. We were all texting and calling constantly throughout the next couple weeks. It definitely helped as rough as that is to say but it helped with settling in because I get to know the other guys and got to sit and have conversations with guys instead of just being on the training ground and just practicing and playing games. It was scary and for the next week you had bad flashbacks and it was a struggle. Because of everyone going through the same thing, we were able to help each other out.
LVS: We know there are some jokers in the Bolton Wanderers dressing room. Were there any pranks played on you when you arrived? If so, what was the best one?
TR: There weren't any pranks played. There was a lot of banter going around. Apparently Rob Lainton and I look alike so that was a big one. Being friends with Wheater kind of eased that because he's one of the big pranksters and big jokers. He's kind of taken it easy on me because I've been so nice to him.
LVS: What do you think will be the toughest part of this upcoming Championship season and what are you most looking forward to?
TR: I think the toughest part is going to be the amount of games and the length of the season. With a game every Saturday and one during the week, every week, it's going to be a long season and it's going to be a long haul. It's a matter of taking care of your body and pushing through and getting through it.
I'm most looking forward to being at the top of the table at the end of the season and being promoted.