A YEAR ago, Tim Ream was celebrating Thanksgiving Day in his native America and focusing on the MLS play-offs with New York Red Bulls; now he is across the Atlantic praying he will be thinking about play-offs with Wanderers come May.
It has been a big change in 12 months for the defender who joined the Whites in January.
But while he has had a more muted Thanksgiving in Lancashire this week, the 25-year-old says he has plenty to be thankful for.
Ream said: “This time last year I was concentrating on the play-offs in the MLS with New York.
“Obviously, it was always a dream and a goal to move over here and play, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind until the season was over.
“I’ll always remember when I was in high school and I was talking to my careers advisor who asked me what I would like to do when I graduated from college.
“I told him that I wanted to become a professional footballer and he looked at me and laughed because there had only ever been one person from that school who had come close to doing that previously. My reply was ‘I will be number two’.
“Football has become such a popular youth sport now in America, but you do need a lot of luck.
“You need to perform well on the right day, when the right people are watching, to get your break.
“I was reading an article not too long ago.
“It explained that less than one per cent of kids who start out playing football in America make it as a professional.”
Ream achieved his own dream of crossing the Atlantic to ply his trade in Europe with the Whites but admits it has not been an easy transition to make.
He continued: “Moving over here was difficult, and perhaps it’s something that a lot of people misunderstand.
“Maybe there is the perception that we play the sport for a liviing so we shouldn’t have any issues or complaints, but I’m no diffferent than any other guy.
“When you move, not only clubs but countries, and have to relocate thousands of miles from where you have set up your life and home, it can be a difficult transition.
“My family, particularly my wife, found it tough as she had to give up her job that she really enjoyed and loved in New York.
“The only thing you can do is concentrate on what you can control and that has been working hard at my football and the action on the pitch.
“I went home to St Louis right after the season ended in May but I haven’t really been back to New York since I left.
“Life is a little bit different.
“No disrespect to any other city but obviously New York is one of the busiest and coolest places in the world and there are reasons why a lot of people go and visit there.
“The part my wife and I loved was the hustle and bustle but over here it’s also nice to be in a quiet area like Bolton where you can be settled, concentrate on your work and go about your business.”
It may not have been all plain sailing for the USA international as he approaches his first anniversary at the Reebok Stadium with only intermittent appearances in the first team.
But he is determined to work hard and impress new boss Dougie Freedman in 2013.
Ream said: “Starting out in January, after the move, things went pretty well.
“Being relegated at the end of last season was not what I or anybody hoped for, but I thought my performances in the second half of last season were pretty good.
“Coming into the start of this season, I set high expectations of myself.
“For whatever reason, I wasn’t up to scratch and I found myself in and out of the team and sometimes left out of the matchday 18 altogether.
“It’s been kind of up and down – the first five months went well and the time since has been harder for me.
“That’s the way football goes. You have your good games and days, and you have times when it’s more challenging.
“When things aren’t going right, it’s a case of putting your head down, working hard, concentrating on the basics and hopefully getting another chance to prove yourself.”