Zain Westbrooke admits that he has found a new challenge in the B Team’s second year that has helped spur him on to bigger things. Joining brentfordfc.com for a chat during the B squad’s current trip to Germany, Zain sat down to talk us through his development, the squad this season and his time at Brentford.
He started the conversation with a word or two on the standard of tour matches with Kevin O’Connor’s side. Zain said: “It happened quite quickly last year when we went straight to Spain and played against Villarreal and Valencia. We learned quite quickly that we could play at that level but we needed to be consistent and reach a certain standard with every game.
“In the Under-23s league, the standard was a bit different. You had better teams, worse teams, but now we’re playing against good academies from teams who are in the Champions League like Legia Warsaw. We do need to play at the top of our potential every time because we want to show we can beat these teams and we are just as good.”
Entering his second year as Brentford B’s captain, Zain also explained where he thinks he is now compared to the young midfielder who was given the armband at the start of the 16/17 season.
“I think I’m tactically a lot better,” said Zain. “I think that’s got a lot better at the Club. The things that we learn now, compared to two years ago, is just beyond me. I thought I knew a lot more back then, I’ve learned a lot more about the game.
“Particularly towards the end of last year and at the start of this year, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to play at different levels. Being in and around the First Team, what it means to play in the Championship, and then going to the National League and finding out what it takes to win games in that environment.”
Zain has seen several new additions to the squad over the past year and, as one of the older members of the squad, takes it upon himself to help the new boys as best he can. He told us how the team has been shaping up so far this term.
“I think we’ve been quite lucky with the boys that have come in,” he said. “They’re all confident, they all fit in really well but the quality is the main thing. They all bring quality and as a player in a team you always want the new boys to have that quality and not drop their levels.
“I think when they have a bad day, their work ethic is still there and that is a key part of the B Team. We haven’t made it but we feel like we’re getting close, so we need that attitude every day to show how much we want it and how much we’ll help each other.”
Approaching his 21st birthday in October, Zain took some time to reflect on his best moment for The Bees as a youngster.
“I’d have to say coming on against Fulham, making my debut. I think that’s what every kid dreams of, being a professional footballer in that environment and it was a day that I’ll never forget.
“I do remember quite a lot of it, I don’t remember knowing a lot about it before. It was sort of sprung on me, I only knew I was on the bench a few hours before kick-off and then knew I was coming on about five minutes before I actually did. When I came on I felt ready, I believed in myself and it was amazing.
“On everyone’s debut, it’s not selfish but, you just don’t want to let yourself down. You have to make sure you enjoy it and play well. Then you grow and need to realise that it’s the team that matters and you need to help the team whichever you can. That’s how I’ll go into it now.”