From Disneyland to DunfermlineFriday, 30th Jul 2021
Adding an American experience to eleven years at Rangers gives Dunfermline new boy Rhys Breen belief for season ahead.
When on loan to Queen of the South last season Rhys Breen made his debut for Allan Johnston’s team in a 2-1 win against Morton and the Pars new signing would love to make a winning debut for Dunfermline against Morton on Saturday. After serving a period of self isolation on return from a spell in Southern California with Orange County, Rhys accepted that he might need to bide his time:-
“The main thing for me is showing what I can do in training, making sure that I have the right energy, the right attitude and hopefully if I do that it will prove that I can play. I’m in no rush, I have been isolating for ten days so I’m a wee bit rusty but give me a couple of days I will be flying again.”
On his own admission sitting around in the house is not one of his things and certainly not for ten days:-
“When I arrived it was hard. I am glad to be back into the way of things, delighted to be meeting the boys and meeting the gaffer.”
The 21 year old came through the Rangers youth academy and was on loan at Partick Thistle and Queen of the South last season. After the final match of Queens season, Rhys made five starts for Orange County in the USL Championship during May and June. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience:-
“Moving away from home I knew that it would be a challenge in that kind of sense. It was unbelievable playing in America, I never thought that I would ever be able to do that. I had to adjust to the climate all the time but the all round experienced was amazing.
“The club made me really welcome so it made my time easier. When I went into games I felt really comfortable and the players who I was playing with were really good guys. That made my life a wee bit easier and that’s why I really played well over there.”
Rhys progress at Rangers was carefully followed by Craig Mulholland, the head of the academy. Craig has known the central defender since he was a young boy.
“He has always put faith in me, training and playing. He always gave me little boosts when I needed it. When I was growing up as a young player I was injured quite a lot, so motivation was quite hard but when surrounded by all these people like physio staff and coaches it made my time a lot easier.”
Rhys had a hip injury that required an operation. Mentally it was difficult for the youngster but because he was surrounded by good people and great facilities, he felt that he came back even stronger.
“The injury was a really big thing but I just feel that the environment that Rangers have, the professionalism, the way that you are supposed to be treating people around the facility and the way you should treat yourself as a player - I feel that has been a really dramatic change in my life.
“I feel that if I was not at that club you do not have the same standards but I feel that at Rangers the standards that I have been brought up with will last with me throughout my whole life.
“I always wanted to play for Rangers but the opportunity that I have got with Dunfermline was a no brainer. Speaking to the gaffer and knowing a lot about the team and what they want this season, I am delighted to be here.
“I was at Rangers for eleven years so to come away from that was a bit difficult but I know when I am here I will really fit in well.
“I was always in the reserve team and was around first team training but first team football for me is vital. I am 21 and need to go and show what I can do. I need to start getting first team appearances under my belt. That is why I’m here, that is why I want this challenge.
“Trying to keep self motivation was the biggest thing for me as a kid. Am I going to make it? Am I going to get back to the way I was? Am I going to be as good as I was? In some sort of way I feel that the injury has actually helped me to become stronger mentally and come back physically. I have really learned a lot from that.
“I have been trusted with two years here so I have two years to go and show what I can do and hopefully I can extend it after that.”
While at Rangers Rhys had a good relationship with all the Backroom and even First Team staff. He has not had time to say his farewells to Rangers yet due to his self isolation but he is pleased that Kai Kennedy, on loan from Rangers, will once again be a team mate.
“Kai sent me a wee message saying ‘I’m going to Dunfermline’ and I said ‘that’s brilliant’. Then a couple of days later, I was going to Dunfermline and I sent him a message saying ‘you won’t believe it’. That is good.
“Dan Pybus was at Queen of the South last season with me but after two days in here I felt that I had been here for two years. Everyone is just so nice to me so that has made it a lot easier for me.
“First team football is vital for players like Kai or like boys who are 18, 19 or 20 if they get the chance to go out on loan. The jump from reserve team football to first team football is massive. It matures you as a person on the pitch and mentally, it is really really big.”
Rhys feels that he has made the best of his loan spells. He played six matches for Thistle between October 2020 and December 2020, then at Queen of the South was ever present in the sixteen matches there from January until April.
“I think Queen of the South was probably the biggest one for me. I went there, into an environment of men’s football. You are playing for three points and you could win promotion so I feel that with Queen of the South I had a lot to prove. As I got into the squad it just felt natural when I was playing.
“When I was a reserve player it seemed so far away. Sometimes I wondered if I was going to make it as a footballer or not? You always have these doubts in your head but once I started going out on loan and you meet some really nice guys you start feeling what you can do it. You are on television sometimes, you are playing against grown men, playing in different environments so I feel that is one of the biggest things.”
Rhys revealed that his agent had informed him that some clubs were asking what his situation was for the 2021-2022 season but when Dunfermline were the first club in there was no need to consider any options:-
“I would have picked Dunfermline no matter what. I spoke to the manager and I knew some of the players there, I knew what kind of football they wanted to play.”
Peter Grant’s ambition impressed Rhys so much that he wanted to be part of the upcoming Championship campaign and hopes to bring the positive approach of the Scottish champions to Dunfermline:-
“Every player should walk out on to the pitch with the focus to win the game. You have to think that you can win the league, you have to have that kind of energy and that drive to go and do it. When I was at Rangers losing wasn’t really an option. Last season they proved that. It took a while for the team to gel together but last season it goes to show, if you have got that mentality you can go ahead and do anything.”
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