Will Nightingale strives to fulfil rich promise
Will Nightingale is determined to come back stronger after injury and repay the faith shown in him by the club after he signed his second professional contract.
Despite having his breakthrough season interrupted by a knee injury that required an operation, the 19-year-old penned a new deal and Neal Ardley said that he has the potential to be a future AFC Wimbledon captain.
.You TubeNightingale gave an extensive interview shortly after signing in which he talked passionately about living up to that billing after joining the Dons 10 years ago. Part of this interview can now be viewed by clicking on
The towering defender was interviewed by WDON commentator Rob Cornell with images of that memorable 1988 FA Cup triumph in the background and he said he would love to play a part in future glory with the club.
“I got told by the manager that I was going to be offered a new contract and it felt a bit awkward because I was injured,” said Nightingale. “The injury was difficult for me to take because things had gone so well for me. It was a really proud moment for me to get man of the match on my debut, but the injury was a massive setback. My head has been all over the place lately, but now I have had my operation and that went well. Now I aim to come back stronger.
“I played Under-21 games this season against players who had played in the league. I have also watched a lot of League 2 football over the years when I’ve been coming to the games. I knew I could play at this level. The more games I play the better I will get. The coaching staff have helped me a lot with loads of things to do with playing centre-back, including positioning. I just have to keep learning as much as I can in training. I can only see myself improving in the same way I have in the last couple of years.”
Since joining Wimbledon at the age of nine, Nightingale has shrugged off plenty of injuries and given up a lot to become a professional footballer. He’s determined to keep going that “extra mile” to fulfil the rich potential that Neal Ardley believes he has.
“I have had to make a lot of sacrifices over the years,” added Nightingale. “I could not stay on at school and do my A-levels and there are plenty of other sacrifices that you make. Sometimes you have to stay behind and put in the extra hours after training. There are so many people who want it (to become a professional footballer), but you have to go the extra mile.
“It’s a big statement (to say that Will could be a future captain), but that gives me massive confidence. It would be great if I could so that, but I still have things I need to improve upon. I just have to focus on being as good as I can be. The manager is showing a lot of faith in youngsters here by giving them professional contracts early. It shows that he has a lot of trust in young players and that we can be part of his plans in the future.”
The full eight-minute interview with Will Nightingale featured on Dons Player yesterday, along with interviews with Callum Kennedy and Neal Ardley. Almost seven minutes of match highlights from the last game against Southend are also on Dons Player.