Saturday, June 27, 2009
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English brothers in arms at Fram

FORMER Chelsea youths Joe and Sam Tillen both ply their trade with Fram Reykjavik, The New Saints' Icelandic opponents in the first qualifying round of the Europa League.

And Sam says that the top eight teams in the 12-club Pepsi-deildin could play in League Two with no problems and maybe the top two or three teams would be decent in League One.
Sam moved to Reykjavik in January 2008 after becoming disillusioned with football in the lower leagues in England following a spell at Brentford and was followed by his brother Joe later in the year.
"My contract was terminated mutually and I sought a new challenge," he says.
"My friend Oli Skulason, who was an Icelandic team-mate at Brentford, put me in touch with an agent here and I had a four day trial at Fram. It went well and I signed for them."
Although he is full-time, Sam says that the majority of players in Iceland are semi-pro and have a second income.
"I think the teams here try to play more football than in England, especially the lower leagues. Most teams play 4-3-3 here too rather than 4-4-2."
And he reckons Fram will not be fazed by playing on Park Hall's artificial surface: "With the climate as it is the pre-season is very long. Games start in January and the season starts in May and it is also conducted on Astroturf, as the grass is only ready at the end of April.
"The training facilities at Fram are better than most football league clubs. The training I received at Brentford was very rigid, focusing on facets of play like throw-ins and set-pieces. Here the manager allows us more freedom to play."
Brother Joe is a winger who was at MK Dons after leaving Stamford Bridge and then took a nine month break from the game.
"I was mentally shattered from my experiences at MK Dons. I knew I was a good player but it just seemed that ability didn’t really count for much in the grand scheme of things," he says.
"I missed football almost immediately though, and eventually started playing for a side that my father coached, Thatcham Town in the Southern League. It was very enjoyable few months, and I looked forward to training and playing, which is something that wasn’t there in the last few weeks at Milton Keynes."
Joe loves Iceland and says it has been relatively easy to make the transition from English football.
The Fram squad mostly work or are studying at university during the day with up to two hours' training four days a week.
"At the moment I’m just trying to establish myself here in Iceland. We have a team who can compete in the top league and it would be nice to become an important figure in the team which I know I have the ability to do," adds Joe.
"We haven’t started off the season too well, but there is no reason why we can’t finish in the top three again.
"I’m not really sure what is expected of us in the Europa League, but I think we can at least progress through the first qualifying round."
Photo: Sam Tillen in action for Fram Reykjavik [www.fotbolti.net].

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