Wolves' Max Kilman: From England Futsal To The Premier League Via Non League
There's no right or wrong route into Premier League football and Wolves' Max Kilman is out here backing up that statement.
The 6 ft 4 defender, the only player to have played Non-League and the Premier League in the same season, has started the last three top-flight games in Wolves' back three.
One of those was a Man of the Match display in a 1-0 win over Leeds United live on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football.
Kilman assisted Raul Jimenez for the winning goal and had some brilliant praise heaped on him by captain Conor Coady in his memorable post-match interview.
It was a huge step in an incredibly unique journey for Kilman. He was with Fulham's academy from the age of nine until 15 and later ventured to the lower echelons with the likes of Welling United, Maidenhead United and Marlow.
:notes: "It's not futsal anymore....it's not futsal anymore!"- Wolves (@Wolves) October 21, 2020
A performance from Maximilian Kilman.
But he combined this with playing futsal at an extremely high level. Starting at a young age, Kilman went on to play 25 times for the England national futsal team and the indoor game has been key to his development.
"I got into futsal at 14 and I used to have training on Tuesday and Thursday," he told SPORTbible.
"It was something different and allowed me to work on my technical side and balancing it out made it more enjoyable.
"When it comes to football, the transition helped me be more comfortable on the ball, more aware of my surroundings and make quicker decisions.
"I think there's some youth level academies who have started playing futsal once a week so I would definitely advise younger kids [to play it].
"In Brazil or Spain they play it when they are young, growing up and it helps transition them into football.
"A lot of people mistake futsal for being very flairy but it's really good for the tactical side of the game."
Disappointed to see funding being stopped for all England futsal teams. I've had some memorable experiences being part of the England squad growing up and it's sad to see that others won't be able to experience the same. https://t.co/l604qzl0do- Maximilian Kilman (@maxkilman) October 26, 2020
Kilman had previously done a good job of balancing the two different sports but he had to put futsal on the backburner when he signed for Wolves on transfer deadline day in August 2018.
He became the first player to go from Non-League to the Premier League, without loans in between, since Chris Smalling joined Fulham from Maidstone United back in 2008.
"I was playing for Maidenhead and my manager told me that Wolves wanted to take me on trial," Kilman revealed.
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"He was quite open to me about it and let me go.
"I went to Wolves for a week, came back and went for another week's trial. Then I had to wait a couple of weeks for them to make a decision.
"On transfer deadline day they made a decision to take me. I didn't expect it at all and for it to happen was unbelievable.
"In football things can happen and things change really quickly. You have to be in the right place at the right time to get noticed.
"For players that are not in the position they want to be, they need to stay focused and believe in themselves because anything can happen.
Having first started playing football at the age of six and being hooked as soon as he had a ball under his arm, Kilman started to watch games on the television and John Terry was the player who caught his attention.
"I was a Chelsea fan growing up and he was always someone I looked up to. He wasn't the quickest player but how well he read the game and the heroic defending that he did, caught my eye."
Fast forward to May 2019 and Kilman realised his dream of becoming a Premier League player when he was a late substitute in a 1-0 win over Fulham.
It's a feat he never thought would happen and one that he still can't believe.
"It was surreal - to come on the pitch and know that you're in the Premier League.
"To be fair I didn't think it would happen but as it's come, I've taken it step by step and just kind of embraced it.
"I sometimes think, 'Wow I'm in the Premier League' so I still have that feeling.
"I've always wanted to just keep my head down and work hard so that when an opportunity comes, I will take it - I've always had that mentality.
"I'm very happy where I am now and just need to keep going and progressing."
The progression is going swimmingly, especially of late. Just days after his mature and measured display at Elland Road, the 23-year-old signed a new contract that keeps him at Molineux until 2025.
Maximilian Kilman commits his long-term future to Wolves by signing a new five-year contract.- Wolves (@Wolves) October 21, 2020
He owes a lot to Nuno Espirito Santo and his backroom team for helping him improve in a number of areas.
"He's a top manager. He and his staff have helped me a lot because when I first came in, I didn't think I was physically fit enough.
"There were some aspects I needed to work on and they've helped me with becoming a more complete athlete and with the tactical side. He's been great with me.
"He demands a lot from his players but believes a lot in his players. If you show your commitment, you'll get your rewards with game time."
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