James Rowe interviewed Queens Park Rangers attacking midfielder Luke Freeman, exclusively for WFi. They discussed his time at QPR, Leeds United and the best teams in the Championship, and some apologies from referees!
You signed for QPR in 2017. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far, and how would you assess QPR’s 2018/19 Championship season?
I am really enjoying my time at QPR so far. I am playing a lot of matches and that is the reason why I came here.
It has been a bit of a tough season in the Championship. A bit of a roller-coaster, full of up’s and down’s. We did not start the season well and then we picked up, and then due to key injuries then went on a bad run.
But in that bad run we were quite unlucky, and when you look back on a lot of matches we were probably the better team and deserved the three points.
We have also received a lot of letters from the referees association apologising about decisions, but by then it is too late.
I feel if decisions had gone our way we may well have been sitting in mid table and looking a lot prettier, looking up rather than down at the end of the season.
Could you say who is the best team that you have played again in the Championship this season?
It has been a bit of a funny season in all honesty. You can play some really good teams on their day, but I would definitely say it has been Leeds United and Norwich City.
We played Norwich first, just before they went on their good run, and they eventually got to where they are now.
When we played them they were not particularly at their best. They were good but they were not amazing.
I think back to playing Leeds United at Elland Road in the middle of the season, and they were excellent.
Three months ago we played them at Loftus Road and we ended up beating them 1-0, of course they are still a good team. I would definitely say that Leeds and Sheffield United on their day have been difficult to play against.
FULL TIME: Luke Freeman’s goal settles the game, as QPR walk away with a 1-0 win at Loftus Road pic.twitter.com/EFwJm20dHW
— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 26, 2019
You spent part of your youth career at Gillingham. Could you tell me about your time there, and did it help educate you and prepare you for life as a professional footballer?
I joined Gillingham FC at a young age, from the age of eleven to 16, and it was a time that I really enjoyed.
My school also had a good arrangement with them that allowed me to study and also train at the club.
It was helpful to learn my trade at such a young age, and it put me in good stead for my career as I ended up moving to Arsenal from there.
You spent three seasons at Bristol City. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any particular highlights?
Yes I joined a good team at Bristol City, and we won promotion from League One to the Championship. I also managed to get in the team of the year during my time at the club.
I was fortunate to play in a good team down at Bristol that always had a will to win, and the then manager, Steve Cotterill, to be fair to him did a fantastic job.
It was an achievement to turn around a team that had been underperforming, and I was one of many players that he recruited in summer to start building again in order to get promoted, and that is exactly what we did.
So I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bristol City, playing a lot of matches and winning trophies playing the JP Trophy in front of 76.000 at Wembley, and to have experienced that, it was a really good highlight of my career so far.
🏆 Your #QPR Player of the Year.
Luke Freeman 👏 pic.twitter.com/julHFbCWho
— QPR FC (@QPR) April 26, 2019
With the experience you have at different levels in England, could you say who are the best players that you have played alongside so far in your career?
A very tough question! I was fortunate to play with a lot of good players during my time at Arsenal.
I trained a lot with the first team, so the likes of Robin van Persie, and Jack Wilshere who was the same age group as me.
Wojciech Szczesny, who is now at Juventus winning trophies. So I have taken little things having played with a wide range of talented players.
I can imagine in your position as a central midfielder that you have come up against really good opponents through the years. Are there any that have stood out for you in terms of tough tests or difficult matches you have played?
As you go on in your career you come up against so many players, creative players, that it is hard to pick out anyone really.
Even playing different teams in a tactical sense, when they are very good at rotating players and formations. Teams where players have a set role, or going wherever they want to on the pitch and then have someone filling in behind them that keeps the tactical structure.
It’s almost off the cuff of centre halves and pointing deep down than as to what they do and what position they play.
So against those kind of teams, I have found that it has been a real struggle. Teams such as Fulham in the year they got promoted to the Championship, and Norwich City and Leeds United this season.
Finally Luke, you mentioned Steve Cotterill at Bristol City, but could you say who are the managers that have played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?
At the start of my career Graham Westley at Stevenage was very important to me in giving me the opportunity to play and gain match experience, and play first team football.
Steve Cotterill at Bristol City converted me to an attacking midfield player. He asked me to play in that position and I could not really see it myself. I was not sure as I had always playing as a winger and not as a number ten, but little did I know, once I had narrowed the role down that is when I probably played my most successful football.
They are the two managers that have helped me transform my game, and become the player I am today.