ALTHOUGH new QPR signing George Thomas is still only 23 years old, he is approaching his seventh season as a senior professional.
He was just 16 years and 310 days old when he made his first-team bow for Coventry City back in January 2014, making him the Sky Blues’ sixth youngest debutant of all time.
By the end of his teens, he had racked up a half century of senior appearances – as well as five goals – and he would begin his twenties in fantastic fashion.
Just 24 hours after his 20th birthday, on March 25th 2017, he scored the winning goal as Coventry beat Bristol Rovers 1-0 in Sky Bet League One. It was the perfect birthday present but what he achieved eight days later would eclipse it by some distance.
The Sky Blues – despite being in danger of suffering relegation from League One – had reached the final of the EFL Trophy.
They went head to head against Oxford United in front of 74,434 spectators at Wembley Stadium and Thomas started the match and duly scored Coventry’s second-half winner with a precise strike into the bottom corner of the net.
The way the goal came; intelligent wing play to get in behind Oxford’s full-back; an accurate cross to find Thomas on the edge of the box and his crisp drive into the corner, you could draw comparisons with a lot of QPR’s good attacking play from this season.
It’s three years since that winning strike – almost certainly one of the biggest moments of his career so far – and when conducting his first interview with www.qpr.co.uk Thomas explained what he hopes to bring to the R’s.
“My type of game is finding pockets [of space], getting on the half turn and being creative,” he said. “Hopefully I can fit that QPR mould and do well with the team.
“I am quite a versatile player and I can work for the team in the middle, and be a bit of a dog if needs be, but also get on the ball and try to control the game.
“I think I’m most affective higher up the pitch because I’m quite a sharp, dynamic and creative player who likes to create chances for players to score goals.”
Unfortunately for Coventry, 2016/17 ended in relegation but Thomas – who ended the campaign with nine goals from midfield – had drawn Premier League interest.
He made the move to Leicester City that summer, being signed by then-manager Craig Shakespeare, which gave him the opportunity to further his footballing education by learning from their top-flight players.
He said: “That was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Leicester in the first place; a chance to train with top, top world-class players.”
While with the Foxes, Thomas had loan spells at Scunthorpe United and Dutch club Den Haag and, in May 2018, he also earned the first of his three senior Wales caps.
This season, 2019/20, he captained Leicester’s U23s squad as they finished second in Premier League 2 Division 1, losing only three games all season.
He added: “It has definitely helped me as a player [being at Leicester] and also captaining the U23 team has made me grow as a person as well. I played a little bit out of position this season, playing in central midfield, but I feel like I have added another string to my bow and it has helped me to understand different roles in the game and I have grown as a leader as well.”
Thomas – a bubbly and instantly likeable character – knew that, at this stage of his career, his next move after leaving Leicester was going to be a big one. Now he is determined to prove that he has made the correct choice.
He said: “It is time for me to kick on again and make sure that I am playing week in, week out.
“I’m 23 years old now and I want to play games – as many as I can – and seeing the young squad of players here and all of these boys playing and improving, it definitely impacted my decision to join QPR.”