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Terell strikes the right note by putting Wimbledon first

Dons defender was offered a chance to play international football

12 March 2020

His choice of music certainly reflects his Caribbean roots, but Terell Thomas put AFC Wimbledon first when an international call-up came from St Lucia.

Terell is proud of his family connection with St Lucia – his grandparents are from there – and if it was up to him then Reggae and Calypso music would be played in the dressing room on a matchday!

For those supporters that may have missed it in Saturday’s programme for the Bolton game, you can read our in-depth interview with Terell below.

Helping Wimbledon was the priority for Terell Mondasia Thomas when the opportunity arose for him to play international football.

“My Grandad’s original surname was Mondasia, but when he came to the UK it became Thomas,” Terell recalled. “I am eligible to play for St Lucia. It was the Blackpool game away that I could have missed as there was a chance to go out and play for St Lucia, but we had a lot of injuries in defence. Will had just got his injury, Paul Kalambayi was suspended, and I think Rod was out too. We didn’t have any centre-backs and I didn’t feel it was the right time to go. Maybe I can go in the summer when they have the qualifying games coming up.” 

Terell recently passed the half century mark for Wimbledon league appearances during a season when he’s been a consistent performer at the heart of our defence. His main focus is on helping Wimbledon to maintain League One status ahead of the exciting move back to Plough Lane, but he believes it’s good for footballers to have other hobbies. In recent times, Terell has been filling his spare time with setting up his own YouTube channel and as a child he always fancied a career in drama!

“I haven’t put anything out yet, but I’ve this season started a You Tube channel with me gaming. I’ve just got the equipment in and I’ve started editing a few videos. It will just be funny game play, or silly walk throughs. It’s just something to keep me stimulated and to occupy my time at the moment, but if you look around at You Tubers they are earning millions of pounds a month! It’s something that may be an option to do after my playing days, may be on the side with another job. It may be something that I can grow in the future, but at the moment it’s just a hobby.”

Terell also has plenty going on in his life as he’s currently learning another language and his partner Jessica is expecting their first child in the summer.

“My girlfriend is from Portugal, so I’m learning Portuguese at the moment. We have a baby on the way, due in July, so it will be a busy time!”

Of course, this summer will also be a pivotal time for the club with the big move to a new stadium back in our spiritual home. Terell is full of praise for the efforts of our supporters, particularly with the Plough Lane Bond raising over £5 million. Being a part of Wimbledon’s future is something he’s looking forward to and he believes that Glyn Hodges and Nick Daws are moving things forward on the pitch too.

“As players, we can sense that the fans are doing as much as they can to get the club back to Plough Lane, for example with the Bond. We know how much effort the fans have put in and what the club aspires to. When we finally get to the new stadium, hopefully the transition will be smooth, and everyone at the club can 100 per cent concentrate on the football side of AFC Wimbledon. Ever since 2002, the move back home has been on everyone’s minds at the club. Once we get back there, we can really concentrate on the football and pushing it forward. Hopefully, we can mount a challenge to get into the play-offs next season.  I believe we have a good basis with this squad to move forward.

“Glyn and Nick work really well together, the information that they give us is crystal clear. We are fully aware of how they want us to play and how they want us to go about it. It’s not a situation where one of them says one thing and then the other says something different.

“From a personal perspective, I’ve really enjoyed this season as I’ve played most of the games. I feel that I’ve been consistent in my performances. Hopefully, I can keep it up and we can have a really good finish to the season.

“We didn’t start the season well, but I think the points that we started to pick-up after the first 10 games really helped us to get a bit away from the bottom three. We would rather have the points in the bag than the games in hand.”

Certainly, Terell is keen to avoid the stress of last season’s Great Escape. He’s normally a laid-back character, but there were one or two sleepless nights as Wimbledon edged closer to pulling off a survival act that had seemed highly unlikely at the start of March.

“Sometimes I would be in bed and I would be looking at the league table. I would be thinking ‘if we win and they lose, it could make a big difference for us in staying up’. It was stressful. The Friday night before the Bradford game was difficult. In general, I’m a laid-back character, but before Bradford I was thinking about the game a lot. It was only really the last two games, I think back to the Wycombe game too, and that were really stressful.”

Terell, who was brought up in East London, came to the attention of Arsenal scouts at the age of nine when he was playing for his local club Purfleet. Three years followed with the Gunners, before he joined Charlton Athletic. Though he made good progress through the ranks at Charlton, first-team football with the Addicks eluded him. However, loan stints at Woking pushed forward his development and led to his move to Wigan Athletic. Indeed, Terell credits playing non league football as key in his career as an impressive loan spell at Sutton United, while he was at Wigan, brought him to the attention of Wimbledon.

“I got my game-time in with Woking and Sutton, which really helped with my development. I was only young at the time of my first loan spell at Woking, I was only about 20, and it really helped to push on my career. I really appreciated the chance that I was given at those clubs. When you move up, the quality of the attackers obviously goes up a notch or two. You get less time to be in a bad position or to make a mistake because the higher level that you go the more you get punished. If you go up to the highest level, you make one mistake and it’s a goal. You learn that when you move up a level or two.

“When I was at Woking it was a very young squad, so football was all that they really did. There were only two or three players that had other jobs on the side, but it did make me appreciate that I’m in a lucky position. I realised that thousands of young players want to be in the position that I’m in, so it gives you that motivation to make the most of your opportunity. During my time at Charlton I had two spells at Woking, for two years in a row, and that really helped me.”

Terell had no hesitation in accepting a new challenge up north when Wigan Athletic came calling in the summer of 2017. He was subsequently handed his first-team debut in a League Cup tie against Milton Keynes, but his spell at Wigan was frustrating for Terell.

“When I came towards the end of my contract at Charlton, it became pretty clear that they were not going to renew it. I was aware of interest from elsewhere and I was confident that I would get a chance somewhere else. Wigan came in for me and I was made to feel very welcome after signing for them. There were a few boys from London in the squad too, which helped. I made my debut for Wigan against MK and it was a good win. I came on at half-time and played at left-back. I had never played in that position before, but someone got sent off, so I had to fill in there. I enjoyed it, especially to be a part of a winning team, and you always remember your professional debut.

“Probably the most frustrating time of my career though came when I was at Wigan. I wasn’t really playing, apart from the odd appearance off the bench. I just wasn’t playing football. When I was at Charlton I was only young, so I wasn’t expecting to play in the first-team and I was out on loan anyway. The most frustrating time was at Wigan, but close to that was when I first came here and I got injured. I then came back from an injury, but I got injured again when we played against Charlton (Football League Trophy). That was a frustrating time as well.

“When you start getting games in the Football League, you think that all the hard work has been worthwhile, particularly dropping down to non league football to get game-time. It puts things into perspective. Even now, I think back to the 60 games that I played in non league because the experiences I gained really helped me to become the player that I am today.”

He may only be 24, but Terell has prided himself this season on providing leadership skills to the younger members of our squad.

“I think I’ve become more of a leader at the back. I still do my pre-match routine of looking up to the sky and saying ‘I’m a good player’. It just reminds me to relax and feel that everything is going to be all right. If I see a team-mate going through a tricky spell in game I just remind him to go back to the basics. I just say things like ‘you are here for a reason, you are a decent player’. I try to help my team-mates by giving them information to help the team defensively and to take us forward.”

Terell’s leadership skills will certainly prove useful in paving the way towards a brighter future on the pitch at Plough Lane.

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