Meet James Fahmy — the footballer who turned down QPR to go to Harvard University

In an incredible turn of events, James Fahmy made the difficult call to wave goodbye to QPR in favour of pursuing academia.

Showcasing talent from a young age, the athlete caught the attention of the experts shortly before his seventh birthday.

Subsequently, he signed for ‘The Hoops’, rising through the ranks and ultimately playing alongside the likes of Harvey Elliot.

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Speaking on the ThreeSixtyTV series Released, Fahmy said: “So I’d been playing for QPR since the age of 6. I have small memories of being scouted. Just like any other kid, I was playing football and just enjoying it. As I became a little bit older, I started to take it more seriously and signed my first contract at the age of 9.

“I suppose when you’re so young, you don’t think about it so much, but the feeling of signing your first contract when you get the picture of you when you’re signing the paper is something that I will definitely remember.

“In my age group, there was Armando Broja playing for Chelsea at the time, Caleb Watts at Southampton, another great talent, used to play against Fabio Carvalho for Fulham, but I suppose the big name that stands out would Harvey Elliot, who is now at Liverpool.

“Playing with Harvey Elliot from a young age, he was at QPR; he was a lot smaller than everybody. He would always play a year or two years above, so he would play with me and my team and also in the year above me. He was really technically talented, but I suppose a lot of people doubted him for his size. His trajectory now is unbelievable to see. He’s gone on to work extremely hard at his game, and now he’s going on to achieve great things.”


James Fahmy made the tough decision to leave QPR

While the youngster possessed incredible talent on the field, he’s much more than just a footballer.

With extreme intelligence, Fahmy made the decision to wave goodbye to Loftus Road.

The 20-year-old said: “I got into Harvard about three months before our contracts were being given out. Looking back, I remember going into my meeting with my coaches; we were sat at the table. I had my mum with me across the table; I had my manager, my strength and conditioning coaches, the psychiatrist, the head of the academy all sat opposite me and going into the room. It made me anxious that I would tell them I wouldn’t be pursuing my contract. I remember feeling so nervous having to break the news that I wouldn’t be going any further with the club.”

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He continued: “The second I let out the information, it was a relief to see that the coaches were happy for me. There was no pressure that I should be staying on. They really understood that this was the right decision for me. They got that this was such a great opportunity that would allow me to pursue so many different things and so many other opportunities. Their reaction, telling me how proud they were, and that I could really be an inspiration for other people was such a relieving moment.

“When I had accepted the decision to go to Harvard, I was nervous to tell some of my teammates. I felt scared of the way they would react. But when I told them, it was such an amazing feeling because they were all so proud. The boys would say things like, ‘Going to Harvard, isn’t that where Suits is? Are you gonna be one of those people?’ and they were just really supportive of me. So it was a great feeling to share with them.”

James Fahmy is loving life at Harvard

Having moved to the States to chase the American dream, the student is delighted with his decision.

He said: “Going over to play college football in America, or college soccer as the Americans would say, I didn’t expect the level. I thought coming from a place like QPR would put me in such great stead to go over there and really dominate and show my abilities. You think that because the academy levels in the UK are so high. I thought going over to college in America would be a step down. But when I got there, everybody in my class had played international football at youth level. We had a guy playing at the U20 World Cup for New Zealand, another player who played for Monaco. There was also a lad who’d represented Italy at the youth World Cups and European Championships.

“Everybody was so astounded at the level that I played for at QPR and coming over from England, just because not a lot of people chose to take that decision. The level over in America has such high quality. That really surprised me. The level over there has still allowed me to improve as a football player, everyday training with good quality players. It proved to me that I made the right decision. I can carry on as a football player; I can explore the potential to be drafted. I suppose the best example of that is Jack Harrison at Leeds. He took the American college route and then went to New York City FC.”

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James Fahmy believes he will find success no matter what happens

The talented athlete beamed: “However, if football doesn’t work out for me, I’m at such a great place here at Harvard with the support network and all of the social connections that I’ve made, that will help me out in other career opportunities.

“The message that I would want to give to anybody in the academy system would be to think to yourself what defines success for you? If your only way is to play Premier League or Championship level, and it’s either that or nothing, then I would advise that you take a step back and look at a broader picture and see what other options there are out there.”

Featured Image Credit: James Fahmy