Elliot Johnson spoke to barnetfc.com for this week’s Big Interview to look back on a season that has seen him establish himself as first choice left-back.
Still just 18-years-old, Elliot represents the perfect role model for any aspiring footballer as he talks through his past, present and future at the club.
He also spoke of the confidence bred into him by head-coach Edgar Davids and his desire to help the Bees secure their League Two status.
First of all let’s reflect on Saturday’s match, overall a very disappointing performance and result for the club…
EJ: “It was definitely disappointing because after the win against Southend United I think we all thought we could kick on and put a run of wins together. We did not execute the game plan like we wanted but we have picked ourselves up and are looking to the next game on Saturday where we can hopefully get a win.”
Next up we face Morecambe at Underhill, are you confident we can get back to winning ways and continue our climb up the league table?
EJ: “Of course, if you speak to any of the teams we have played recently they will tell you that our league position does not show how good we are. We are a very good team who like to pass the ball and I think we just need that little bit of luck. On Saturday we will be fine.”
Strangely we have played a lot better against the top sides in the division than the ones at the bottom, do you feel there is a reason behind this?
EJ: “It is very weird and all of the players have spoken about it. When we play against a side in the top half we match them and usually end up coming out on top but when we face the teams in and around us we don’t, it is very frustrating. They are the teams we need to beat because we want to keep them down and push away but it is probably just a coincidence.”
You have made 16 appearances for the club this season and are yet to receive a yellow card, were you aware of the stat?
EJ: “I was not aware of how many appearances I have made but I did know that I was yet to receive a yellow card. It is a nice record to have and it is probably because I do not jump into challenges and I always analyse the situation before acting.”
You also haven’t scored a goal yet, is that something you would like to do sooner rather than later or are you more concerned with your defensive duties?
EJ: “I am a defender so my main priority is always to put in a good shift defensively. We have had a few clean sheets recently which is good but it would be nice to get on the score sheet before the end of the season.”
You were registered as a first-team player as a 16-year-old and featured on the bench several times over the past two seasons. How did being in and around the first-team at such a young age help your development?
EJ: “I think just being around the first-team gives you the mentality of winning, they have to pick points up every week and focus on the games in training so I had to do the same. I think it made the transition of playing in the first-team easier because I did have that experience. Having the likes of Graham Stack and John Oster also makes a difference because they welcome you into the group, take the pressure off you and always talk to you.”
You are still just 18-years-old but have cemented yourself as first choice left-back, did you feel that was possible at the start of the season?
EJ: “No I didn’t. Jordan Brown is a very good player and my hope was to get in and around it and perhaps get on the bench. From there I was hoping to make one or two appearances before the end of the season but once I got my chance I took it. I still look back and am surprised it happened but I feel I am putting in better performances each time I play.”
The first-team and youth-team now train at The Hive, how do you feel the outstanding facilities have contributed to your development?
EL: “They are great especially when you consider that we are a League Two team because you wouldn’t expect them to be as good as they are. Everything we have here at The Hive helps us be a better team and improve every week.”
You were named in the Npower League Two team of the week a few weeks back which is a great achievement at such a young age…
EJ: “I was really happy about that because it is always nice when people recognise your performances. As a young player that is especially the case because it means you are being compared and matching all the other left-backs in the league.”
Looking long-term what are your aims with Barnet and what do you hope to achieve during your time here?
EJ: “This season the aim is of course to stay up and ensure that we have League Football here next year. Hopefully I can keep my place next season and build on what I have achieved; I am not really looking too far into the future as I am one hundred per cent focussed on this season.”
Every footballer wants to play at the highest level possible so how far do you think you can go in the game?
EJ: “I have often thought about it but that was when I was younger and not in the position I am in now. I have played a few games now and I have often wondered but as soon as I do I bring myself back to reality to focus on Barnet. I take each game as it comes and that is very much my mentality, with the position we are in right now it is vital that we win every game so it is also one shared by the team.”
Finally, Edgar Davids took charge midway through the season, what has it been like having someone with his presence and experience not only managing but picking you?
EJ: “At first it was very surreal to see such a big name coming to Barnet and it did take me back but now that it has settled it just gives me great confidence because he has faith in me and is picking me. That gives you a great boost because it allows you to go out on the pitch and express yourself knowing he has confidence in your ability.”