It’s Steven Sessegnon’s time now. And the scene’s been set just right for him to shine, as Drew Heatley explains.
For most sets of twins, their main battle in life is to be seen as individuals and not one half of a duo.
For Steven Sessegnon, it’s about emerging from the shadow of his brother Ryan. Steven’s famously a few minutes older than his twin – and as an elder brother myself I struggle with the idea of my younger sibling taking the limelight and plaudits. Behind the obvious pride and happiness, there must be a niggling sense of jealousy (professionally, at least) – and a burning desire to prove yourself in your own right.
The stage is now set for Steven to do just that. Rumours that Scott Parker sees him as our first-choice right-back this season rumbled along during the summer, and when Ryan departed for North London, leaving Steven behind, those whispers got louder. Injury to Denis Odoi means we’re still unsure as to whether that berth is Steven’s full-time now or not, but after a man-of-the-match-winning debut against Huddersfield and another solid performance this week against Millwall, surely only a mad man would drop him.
There are no downsides to Steven’s emergence. We get to recycle our “one of our own” and “Fulham loves you more than you will know” chants, we get another badge-tapper (no mentions of passion merchants, please) and Steven solves our long-running right-back problem. This column isn’t about Cyrus Christie (this one, however, is), but suffice to say he wasn’t the replacement for Ryan Fredericks we needed. In Steven, we have a full-back who’s as comfortable going forward as he is defending, and who’s truly comfortable in the role, unlike his brother who was always more at home on the wing.
Crucially, there’s no indication in the way Steven’s played so far that shows he’s in any way haunted or weighed down by his twin’s success, and subsequently the pressure put on his last name. I saw a tweet this week asking why the powers that be at Fulham have “held Steven down” for so long when he’s clearly good enough. I’d argue it was a stroke of genius.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence we never saw the coveted “double Sess” in the league, when – let’s face it – it’d not have done us any harm to do so at the tail-end of last season. We knew Ryan was on his way – it was the worst-kept secret in football. I reckon we wanted to give Steven room to breathe in the first team on his own, free of any direct comparisons – and free from his brother’s shadow. I might be reading too much into all this, of course, but if I’m not – it’s got to be seen a masterstroke.
Modern football is choc-a-block with “narratives” – and this is a story line we can all sink our teeth into. Good things come to those who wait. Make no mistake: Steven – and we – have been patient.