Following dad’s footsteps no burden for West Brom's Darnell Furlong
Growing up with dreams of making it as a professional can carry a lot of pressure for budding footballers.
But that pressure can be intensified when your dad enjoyed a successful career in the game.
Thankfully for Albion, Darnell Furlong has never been burdened by the weight of expectation.
The full-back watched from the sidelines as a child while his dad Paul enjoyed a hugely successful playing career.
Furlong senior played for Chelsea in the Premier League and also enjoyed glittering spells with Watford, Blues and QPR.
Now it is Darnell who is making headlines with the full-back having put in a number of eye-catching displays to help Albion to the top of the Championship.
And the defender believes his route to the top was made easier because his parents never put him under pressure to make it in the game.
“I can understand parents that really want their kids to do well and make a good career for themselves in the game,” the 24-year-old said.
“But I think to smother them with it can almost make them go the other way.
“If you’re playing and worrying about what your mum and dad are going to think, you might be restricted by that.
“But I grew up knowing full well that if I didn’t want to be a footballer and I quit there would be no questions asked.
“Yes, they might have tried to persuade me by telling me I had a chance.
“But if I wanted to finish, both my parents would’ve been more than happy with that.
“It’s not for everyone but the fact I was allowed to play freely and make decisions really helped.”
Furlong senior is now the manager of QPR’s under-18s.
It means he is often working on a Saturday, but watches his son in action whenever Albion play in midweek.
But while Darnell and Paul always discuss the game – Furlong junior says they don’t over analyse.
“We do talk quite a bit but maybe less than you think,” he continued.
“Less than people would perceive maybe, just a little chat in the car or on the way home, something like that, nothing too crazy.
“My dad has always been someone who will help me and give me advice, but he doesn’t smother me, he lets me get through it myself and if I need help he’ll always be there.”
Darnell revealed his mum has also been a major influence on his career.
“Don’t forget mum,” he said.
“I would say they have been a 50-50 influence on me.
“She’s been just as big an influence as dad.
“Dad might know more about football but my mum took me training on all those nights he couldn’t.
“The amount of times I dragged her up and down the North Circular!
“But having a dad as a footballer was all I ever knew, really. It was my ‘normal’.
“When something big happened and he scored an important goal it was perfectly normal for my mates to be talking about him.
“They would come up and ask about him all the time.
“A lot of people say I’m just a model of him but I’ve got both of my parents to thank for my upbringing.”
Having been protected from pressure as a youngster, Darnell believes it’s important all players do what they can to take time out from the game and relax.
“I just generally do things to take my mind off of football,” the defender said when asked what he does away from the game.
“Coming to training is an intense world, it’s an intense world at games.
“The night before all you’re thinking about is the game, preparing and doing things for the game.
“People say we only train for an hour-and-half a day but we’re kind of working full-time even when we are at home.
“We have to watch what we eat, we have to sleep right and that’s all part of your work. Just doing things to take your mind of things, going to the cinema, going for a meal, switching right off is really important.”
One the last films Furlong watched was The Joker.
“I’ve seen The Joker, I know its split a few people,” he said.
But he is also a big Formula One fan.
“I love Formula One, absolutely love it,” he added.
“I’m a big Lewis Hamilton fan. I’ve always loved fast cars growing up.
“I’ve had track days, go-karting, that sort of thing.
“With Lewis there is this perception of him being a bit arrogant, I guess.
“But I think that’s unfair. I just think he is absolutely a master of what he does and maybe you need to be confident in your skills and your ability to beat the next man.
“I don’t think he’s naturally arrogant. That’s just the way some guys are.”