Josh Rees was a product of the Arsenal academy during the Arsene Wenger era and ever since leaving, he has mainly plied his trade in the National League, I sat down on the phone with the midfielder and discussed his career to date.
Rees spent the majority of his youth career at the Gunners between 2001-2013 before departing for Nottingham Forest.
The midfielder spoke about how during his time at the club, he got to learn from the elite.
“In terms of coaching, a mastery of the ball and the foundations were based very much on the ball, the more you work with elite players, the more you learn what it takes to become elite and the level of where you need to be”
“Arsenal are very much a possession based side and that went throughout the whole club, you would turn up to training with confidence and try to be the best every week.”
Arsene Wenger has impacted a lot of footballers lives to date and this is no different for Rees.
“Wenger was last manager of a generation and gave players freedom, a massive level of respect was shown towards him because of what he achieved in the game. He took authority when he needed to but the freedom to just play football was key, it worked more in his early era but now it’s more coaching based and working a specific things, he was seen as a father figure to many of the players at the club.”
The Englishman departed Arsenal in the summer of 2013 and found himself at Championship side Nottingham Forest where he only made one senior appearance in three seasons after a couple of loan spells to Nuneaton Town and Torquay United.
A move to Chelmsford City was next on the cards where he had a successful spell for one season before moving on to Bromley where he really began to make a name for himself.
Rees scored an impressive 16 league goals in 43 games and said his success at the club was down to the team being set up around him.
“I always had the ability to score goals and I was given a role in the team that suited me, the team was consistent and when you’re playing week in, week out you manage to rack up numbers and find consistency. The team was set up around me and it was about getting into the positions to find the back of the net.”
A move to League One Gillingham would be the midfielder’s reward for such a fine season but different adversities affected his stay with the Gills.
“I was in and out coming off the bench, as a team we struggled and it was also my first season in the league. There was a change in manager come the end of the season and he just didn’t fancy me but I thought I would build on my appearances from the season before as I felt I had done well in the games I had played in.”
Shortly after the season, Rees made the move back to Bromley.
“I didn’t see the point sitting there and not playing and the opportunity to Bromley came back up so I went back.”
“I knew most of the players and the staff there so it was an easy decision to go back.”
After another successful spell at Bromley, Rees has most recently secured a move to fellow National League side Aldershot.
The midfielder said he is excited to get going with his new team.
“I am excited to be joining the team in this difficult period of uncertainty and it is good to get something sorted. I looking forward to the new season, it is a new team but I know them fairly well from playing against them for Bromley.”
“The manager sold the club to me in terms of his vision, they play good football and the manager admitted they have been slightly naïve but the football is good and they need players to create chances, he’s clear on my roles and responsibilities, knows the ins and outs of my game and I am really looking forward to it.
“He told me they are trying to build a squad to challenge top half of table, the league will be completely different next season and it will hit teams differently because of the pandemic, it’s about consistency, the sky’s the limit”
On his own personal goals for the season, Rees said how he wants to just get get a good pre-season under his belt and chip in with goals and assists.
“I want to contribute to a successful team, I don’t set myself anything specific, I want take it step by step and get a good pre-season under my belt. I want to make sure I’m playing regular and chip in with goals and assists to help the team.” the midfielder said.
“As your career goes on you want to be successful, I don’t have a promotion under my belt yet and when your career finishes, you want something to be able to look back on”
What did you make of what Josh Rees had to say? Comment below!