This interrogation archetypal appeared successful contented 337 of FourFourTwo Magazine. You tin subscribe to the mag here. (opens successful caller tab)
Jarrod Bowen can’t adjacent get a trim these days without proceeding the aforesaid 2 words. His friends successful Leominster, the Herefordshire municipality successful which helium grew up, bombard him with messages astir it each play arsenic well. In fact, good implicit 2.5 cardinal radical astir the satellite person travel to beryllium connected him. Fantasy shot is benignant of a large deal.
You see, the guardant doesn’t lone play for West Ham – helium belongs to astir a 3rd of the 9 cardinal teams successful the authoritative Premier League phantasy game. Bowen is simply a cult hero. A phenomenon. A literal phantasy footballer. And helium doesn’t truly play it.
“I retrieve we were facing Crystal Palace and Norwich earlier successful the season,” Bowen tells FFT. “I had truthful galore messages from radical saying, ‘It’s a treble gameweek and I’ve captained you!’
“Even my barber was astatine it. He messaged maine saying he’d triple captained me, and sent a screenshot aft the Norwich game. I scored 2 and deliberation I got 63 points for him that week. It’s really a batch of unit erstwhile you person each these messages saying, ‘We request you to score’. Funny happening is, I’m not into it. I’ve evidently made a squad and bought myself, but I don’t ever spell connected it...”
Leaving FPL to 1 side, Bowen’s real-life displays person lone go much thrilling since helium joined the Hammers successful January 2020. The 25-year-old has rapidly go a household name, yet had things worked retired conscionable a small differently, he’d person fixed up connected shot earlier the travel adjacent began...
Aged 16, Bowen was told by Hereford United, the Conference Premier squad he’d grown up supporting and representing astatine younker level, that they were canning their academy. The club’s debts had spiralled retired of power and the Bulls were facing liquidation. Kids’ teams were the archetypal to go.
Heartbroken, the promising teen was offered a proceedings astatine Championship broadside Cardiff successful 2013. But things didn’t enactment out. “The Cardiff rejection deed maine hard,” Bowen recalls. “I was astir 16. I went determination for six weeks, played a fewer games and thought I’d done well. But they said no. I was acceptable to telephone it a time – Cardiff didn’t privation maine and Hereford were going under. I started to deliberation possibly shot wasn’t going to happen.”
Thankfully, Hereford U-turned, relaunching their academy and welcoming Bowen back. Then, erstwhile the youngster’s aged younker squad coach, Peter Beadle, became first-team manager, helium promoted his erstwhile complaint immediately. A 17-year-old Bowen started Hereford’s last 8 games of the 2013-14 season, with the Bulls mired successful a relegation conflict and facing their creditors. They won lone 1 of those archetypal six matches, but successful their penultimate game, Bowen bagged the decider successful a melodramatic 3-2 triumph implicit Alfreton. A final-day triumph secured 2 minutes from clip against Aldershot ensured endurance connected extremity quality and sparked chaotic scenes – but Hereford’s revelry would beryllium short-lived.
“About 2 weeks aft those celebrations, we got told the nine was being expelled from the Conference,” says Bowen. “It was pugnacious to take, arsenic a section subordinate who’d been going to games arsenic a 10-year-old instrumentality successful the stands, to ticker the nine disappearing. I’d conscionable felt the precocious of playing and helping the team.”
Coach Beadle came to his rescue again. The antheral who’d masterminded Hereford’s endurance had contacts astatine Hull, past a Premier League side, and recommended they instrumentality a look astatine his young superstar. With Hereford sinking, the Tigers offered Bowen a beingness raft. Sadly for the Bulls, en way to oblivion, they were incapable to get immoderate wealth for a subordinate they hadn’t been capable to wage properly.
“I didn’t truly privation to permission home, but besides knew I didn’t person a squad to play for successful Hereford,” Bowen recalls. “It was a antithetic world. Even astatine younker level, the facilities Hull had were a monolithic difference. I’d ticker the archetypal squad train, players I’d grown up watching similar Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson. That was truly strange.”
Bowen spent 2 years with Hull’s younker teams earlier earning a first-team call-up
in August 2016 – playing alongside Harry Maguire and Andy Robertson – for an EFL Cup necktie astatine Exeter. In October, manager Mike Phelan gave Bowen his Premier League debut disconnected the seat astatine Watford, with a further 4 cameos arriving soon after.
“The crowds shocked maine most,” Bowen says. “At Hereford, you mightiness get 4,000, if that. I retrieve playing astatine West Ham that play successful beforehand of astir 60,000 people. I’d ne'er experienced thing similar it.”
Phelan was sacked successful January 2017, with Hull successful the bottommost three. Incoming gaffer Marco Silva utilized Bowen much sparingly, but the Portuguese did manus him his grandest time retired to day – a commencement against Manchester United successful the League Cup semi-finals.
“That was astonishing for a young player,” helium recalls. “I was up against Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2 of the biggest stars successful football. My mum enactment immoderate pictures from that lucifer successful a framework connected the wall. She was ever doing worldly similar that.”
With relegation confirmed successful mid-May, Silva handed Bowen 2 last appearances, including a 7-1 shellacking astatine Spurs. For the young wideman, relegation simply offered the cleanable level for his vocation to instrumentality off.
Under the tutelage of Nigel Adkins, Bowen became a ruthless predator. In 2017-18, helium scored 14 Championship goals contempt Hull finishing 18th, past upped his full to 22 successful pursuing season. By January 2020, Bowen had already struck 16 times. Premier League clubs were connected precocious alert, and Bowen knew it.
“I had to archer myself that things would instrumentality attraction of themselves if I could absorption and get the shot right,” helium remembers. “In the backmost of your mind, you ever privation to play astatine the apical level and I’d beryllium lying if I told you I hadn’t thought astir the Premier League.”Jarrod for England
And so, West Ham made an £18m deadline time connection Hull couldn’t refuse. Bowen was reluctant to permission the nine that had fixed him his shot, but knew that a determination could beryllium life-changing. Without him (and the West Brom-bound Kamil Grosicki), Hull won lone 1 much crippled each twelvemonth and finished bottom.
“I felt bittersweet to permission then, but you can’t enactment a timer connected these things – transfers happen
in football,” says Bowen. “I deliberation I earned it with the mode I’d been playing, but I’ll ever beryllium grateful to Hull for my improvement there. That’s what got maine wherever I americium now.”
Excitement astatine his top-flight accidental was soon mixed with trepidation, however. Big moves to clubs similar West Ham travel with their ain pressures, but reports suggested that adjacent his caller employers had doubts.
Ex-Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini is said to person dismissed Bowen arsenic a target, doubting his method ability. The Chilean’s replacement, David Moyes – past successful the occupation for small much than a period astatine the clip of Bowen’s accomplishment – lone gave the greenish airy aft Crystal Palace had seen a bid accepted. The Scot besides needed convincing.
“I knew determination would beryllium immoderate doubts, arsenic going from the Championship to the Premier League is simply a antithetic shot game,” Bowen says. “But each I could bash was spot my ain quality and beryllium assured successful what I could bring to the table. I effort not to get caught up successful immoderate radical are saying. You conscionable person to beryllium your doubters wrong.”
Either way, it wasn’t similar Bowen needed immoderate reminders that this would beryllium precise antithetic to 3 years previously. “With Hull, I’d been coming disconnected the seat for the past 10 oregon 15 minutes,” helium recalls. “Now, I’d beryllium starting games for West Ham. It was nerve-racking – I arrived astatine the nine with a large terms tag.”
Yet the invited helium received enactment him astatine contiguous ease. Collected astatine King’s Cross by nine officials successful the last throes of deadline day, Bowen was personally welcomed to the grooming crushed by Moyes precocious that night. The players besides did their bit.
“It’s a truly bully group,” says Bowen. “I retrieve going to the Brighton crippled erstwhile I archetypal signed – I arrived successful the dressing country and astir of the players had nary hint who I was, but they made maine consciousness close astatine home. Nobes [captain Mark Noble] was particularly good. He took maine nether his wing.”
Only extremity quality was keeping West Ham retired of the relegation portion erstwhile Bowen arrived. Many Hammers questioned Moyes’s return, and a bleak commencement had done small to quell the discontent. Then came lockdown, a West Ham revival – and optimism astatine last. Now, successful 2022, nary 1 is uninspired by the manager starring a thrilling revolution.
“He’s got this mindset wherever helium knows what helium wants and helium knows what helium wants from his players,” Bowen says of Moyes. “He wants hard work; helium wants players who volition tally for him and play for the badge. All of the players person bought into his demands.”
Last play was a breakthrough for West Ham, and Bowen successful particular. As to why, the winger puts his uptick down to an antithetic summertime grooming program astatine his uncle’s farm.
“One of his murphy fields is beauteous uneven,” Bowen smiles. “My aged antheral said that moving connected a hard aboveground would fortify my ankles and I’d consciousness truthful speedy erstwhile I was backmost to moving connected grass. So, I practised for a 1 kilometre clip proceedings that we had coming up successful pre-season connected the murphy tract and past
‘Oh God this is awful’. Back astatine West Ham a week later, I breezed it. So it worked!” Strengthened by arable pasture training, Bowen appeared successful each league crippled and registered 8 goals and 5 assists arsenic the Irons finished sixth connected 65 points – a Premier League nine record. They secured a Europa League radical signifier spot for the archetypal time, but determination was besides disappointment aft the Hammers missed retired connected Champions League shot by conscionable 2 points.
“You’ve got to look backmost connected past season’s achievements with pride,” says Bowen. “It conscionable goes to amusement however acold this nine has travel successful caller seasons – from talking astir trying to enactment successful the division, to being gutted that we missed retired connected the Champions League is simply a monolithic measurement for anyone. We inactive got European football. This play is each astir gathering connected what we achieved past term.”
The 25-year-old has enjoyed juggling Europa League assignments with home contention this play – “you’d ne'er usually sojourn immoderate of those countries and spot those stadiums,” helium reasons – but wants to spell 1 better. West Ham are pushing hard for the Champions League again, with Bowen adjacent much instrumental this clip – by aboriginal February, he’d scored oregon assisted 19 goals successful each competitions, much than immoderate different English subordinate astatine a Premier League club.
In private, though, Moyes has shown his prima guardant pugnacious love. “It tin beryllium frustrating erstwhile you’ve played well, arsenic sometimes you privation to beryllium told however good you’ve done, but helium knows there’s much worth successful telling maine however to bash amended adjacent time,” says Bowen.
Publicly, the Scot has been overmuch much effusive; indeed, he’s backed the winger to springiness Gareth Southgate a headache for this winter’s World Cup. “When you look astatine the contention for England; Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho – it’s a determination for Gareth,” Moyes said with pom-poms successful January. “But Jarrod’s getting person to radical saying, ‘We should person a look astatine him and spot what helium tin do’.”
Bowen inactive finds those comparisons a spot strange. “I’ve travel from non-league, truthful to adjacent beryllium mentioned successful the aforesaid enactment arsenic immoderate of these players is amazing,” helium says. “I’ve not played for England astatine immoderate property level, truthful conscionable to get a call-up would beryllium fantastic. It’s everyone’s imagination to play for their state and I’m nary different.”
Naturally, Bowen’s performances person besides attracted involvement from richer clubs – Liverpool person been often rumoured arsenic a imaginable destination. But, arsenic with the England noise, helium knows that the champion mode to woody with immoderate attraction is by controlling the controllables.
“If you work excessively overmuch into it, past it plays connected your mind, which affects your game,” helium says. “It’s similar the England worldly – I don’t interest astir it. I conscionable bash what I tin connected the pitch, bash the champion that I tin and past spot everything volition instrumentality attraction of itself.”
Besides, earlier helium starts worrying astir Southgate, he’s got a barber to support happy. “I conscionable request to support showing what I tin do,” Bowen concludes. “And support earning those phantasy points!"