Will Dennis: former teammates’ Killie connection sold me on the move

Will Dennis has highlighted the influence of former teammates Zeno Rossi and Freddie Woodman as a factor which encouraged him to leave his home in Bournemouth and head for East Ayrshire.

Speaking at the club’s pre-season camp in Belfast, Dennis said: “It was mentioned a couple of months ago that a few clubs in Scotland were looking at me. As always, you just keep your head down and work hard. I was actually on holiday when I got the call from Kilmarnock and jumped at the chance to come here.

“It’s a great club and I’ve heard lots from the former players who I played alongside at Bournemouth. When I was back at digs, we had an invested interest in Killie as I used to sit and watch Zeno Rossi with a few of the boys. That helped as I knew a bit about the club, but I’m looking forward to finding out more.

“The plan was always to go out on loan this season. Last year, I was at Slough Town for the second half of the campaign and had a great time. I had been on a few loans before that which were very beneficial for me on the way here: I just enjoyed playing football.”

In addition to gaining valuable first-team experience on loan, training alongside some of the goalkeepers’ union’s top names has also played a key role in the 22-year-old’s development.

“Being around the first-team squad at Bournemouth was extremely beneficial for me. The goalkeepers there are all big names in their own right. Neto has played for Barcelona, training with Messi and the best players in the world. There was also Aaron Ramsdale, Asmir Begovic and Artur Boruc. I learned a lot from each person and hopefully I can bring those lessons into my game here.

“You can also look at the experience Freddie Woodman gained here before going on to play at the top youth international level. Practically everyone that has been at Bournemouth as a goalkeeper has played in big games and they are all really good for giving advice. We have a groupchat with all of the Bournemouth guys from six or seven years ago. There’s a good group of us goalies that still go out for coffees and golf together.”

(Freddie Woodman celebrates a Killie win in 2017)

Determined to follow in the footsteps of former Bournemouth No.1s, Dennis has set a target of racking up as many minutes of first-team football as possible at this early stage of his career.

“My ambition for this year is to gain another experience from playing in a great league, with a great club. That will be massive for my career and hopefully will help the club a lot this year. The more you play, the more experience you gain, and I feel that you start to play the game differently. I played 20 games last year, and I have felt the positive impact of that already.”

Acknowledging that moving away from home is always a big commitment, the ‘keeper nods to the management team’s personal touch which helped to sway his decision to head up North.

“Living in Bournemouth, it’s an eight-hour drive so the influence of the manager and players who had enjoyed their time up here was a big reason for committing to the move. Before signing, the manager commented that he liked what he had saw of me, which was nice to hear. He seemed really keen to get me involved, so it was a no-brainer for me.”

Kilmarnock return to competitive action against Annan Athletic in the club’s opening Viaplay League Cup group stage fixture. Ticket information can be found – HERE.