Treat others as you would like to be treated and remember that you were the young footballer trying to find his way once upon a time is Brentford captain Harlee Dean’s collective recipe for the person he is today.
From starting out at Dagenham & Redbridge to arriving at Griffin Park via Southampton, Dean has formed a demeanour that several Bees players have implied mirrors that of an older brother nurturing his younger sibling.
Still only 25-years-old himself, Dean has made himself a stalwart at Griffin Park and his maturity of performance in recent years leads many to forget he still has his best years ahead of him.
But Dean was quick to recall the uneasiness he suffered at times early in his career in both north London and the south coast.
He spoke of his eagerness to get in and out of the dressing room at the same rate of knots he now clatters into opposing forwards.
The Bees skipper said: “I just remember being a young boy at Dagenham & Redbridge and then Southampton and I just remember the people who weren’t so open to me and made me feel uneasy and I remember hating that feeling.
“When you walk in the dressing room and you feel are being looked at makes you want to scurry in and scurry out and I don’t think that’s the right environment to be in.”
Those experiences, and his responsibility, which he is keen to stress has no bearing on the way he conducts himself, as captain have made him even more determined to help younger players settle into the squad.
In football as in life, it’s the small things that make the biggest impact – Dean believes that positives vibes off the pitch will positively manifest themselves on it.
He continued: “So if any of the young boys are walking in the dressing room or about I think if I make a point of saying hello and talking to them then they will feel welcomed and all that worry and stuff is gone.
“Because that can affect you on the football pitch if you’re nervous with the people in an environment when you’re not playing football then when you do play football you will feel nervous and that will only make you perform worse.”
Whilst wearing the armband can be a burden to some, and weigh heavily on their shoulders, the Brentford captaincy has spurred Dean on to a new level, but is aware that his aspirations are far from complete and polishing his own demeanour on the pitch is paramount.
Dean is one booking away from missing the clash at Stamford Bridge and, whilst maintaining his integrity and stating his desire to stick to his principles, does admit to a degree of regret that some of his bookings have come about in a way he acknowledges is not acceptable for a captain.
He added: “I’m not going to change the way I play or my behaviour because I think that would be detrimental to myself and the team.
“I do regret the ones for dissent because they’re stupid and that is the thing that as the captain I need to curb, things like my body language and the way I talk at times.
“The gaffer told me in training afterwards as well in front of everybody that my body language needs to change.
“I’m still learning but I’m only 25 and there are things I need to change but I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and if I think something is wrong I’ll say it.”
Like all leaders, and big brothers, Dean can bear the brunt when things don’t go according to plan – whether that be as a collective or an individual, which is something he accepts.
Now in his mid-20s and a father, Dean is integral to the future plans at Griffin Park and beyond and like the club, recognises that whilst he is in a promising state, change is necessary to reach the next level.
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