By Rob Cornell
Having experienced the ups and downs of non league football, new signing Terell Thomas feels well equipped for his latest challenge with Wimbledon.
"As a young player, I'm looking for this opportunity to make my stamp on league football," said Terell in an interview with our premium iFollow Dons channel. "I've played in the National League for the last two seasons and shown what I can do. Now it's the next step for me to show what type of player I am.
"Woking and Sutton were two very different experiences. For example, with Woking it was about having to get together as lads and get each other motivated. The motivation was to stay up. At Sutton, it was about trying to chase down Macclesfield at the top of the table and knowing that we had to win every game. It was two different experiences that I feel I've learned from. I think I've come with the all-round knowledge of a better understanding of football from those two experiences."
Terell spent last season with League One champions Wigan Athletic, but he didn't hesitate when Wimbledon showed an interest.
"The main thing I took from being at Wigan for a year was being around a team that had a winning mentality and was successful," said Terell. "It let me know what's required to be successful, further understand that, and what you have to do day in and day out behind-the-scenes. Sometimes fans don't see how hard we work and what's required to actually succeed in football.
"I'm happy for this to be the next step in my career and I think I've definitely made the right decision. As soon as I heard about the offer, it excited me and it made me feel that this is something I want to go for.
"The gaffer told me about my own game in our meeting. It made me feel like he'd looked into me and knows the type of player I am. He told me about the areas of my game that I could work on, how I'm going to work with the coaches.
"Neal told me I've got to work hard and that it's not all going to come on a plate. He let me know that it's not going to be an easy ride and that I still need to put the work in and show the club what I can do."
Terell can't wait to pull on the colours for the first time this Saturday, when Wimbledon take on Premier League Brighton and Hove Albion. He wants to add to the good start the Dons have made to preparations.
"In football there is no script," said Terell. "I watched the game against QPR the other day and I was impressed with what I saw. We played the ball nicely, worked hard and seemed fit and sharp. I think we are in a good position to push on from where Wimbledon finished last season.
"I do see it as a chance to write my own name in the club's history. I've seen other players come here and do well. The manager said he'd give opportunities and he wants to give young players a chance to push on with their careers, so it was an easy decision for me and I didn't have to think twice about."