Will Nightingale has spoken passionately about leading the Dons out at Plough Lane – and he hopes that it provides inspiration for academy prospects to follow in his footsteps.
After joining us at the age of eight, Will was put on the path to our spiritual home by our academy coaching team with current first-team coach Mark Robinson at the heart of it. Will is grateful for the guidance he received – and he appreciated the messages of support from academy players last week.
“The Academy do such brilliant work here, which is initiated from Robbo," said Will. “He has set out such a good foundation for everyone at the club. There were so many messages we got in the lead-up to the game from all the academy boys, and it’s brilliant to have them a part of it, and to see how much it means to them. Hopefully, as many of them as possible can try to break through into the team in the future. This club needs to be all as one.”
Jack Rudoni, Anthony Hartigan, and Paul Kalambayi also played in the first game at our new stadium after emerging through the academy ranks.
Speaking to Rob Cornell about the significance of captaining Wimbledon at Plough Lane, Will said: “It was a massive honour and a massive privilege, but this club is bigger than any one player. The most important thing is that we’ve gone back home and that’s incredible plaudits to everybody behind the scenes, and the fans for getting us there. I can’t wait for the day when all the fans can enjoy it and experience it. This club is all about the fans, we’ve got to where we are now because of them.
“It’s been a bit of a journey for me: I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve always tried to keep my head down and work hard. I’ve always taken pride in my work-rate and desire to get better each day. It’s been a long journey for me. I had so many people say, ‘you are going to lead us out at Plough Lane one day’. I can’t explain the pride that I have and this club is going to keep pushing in a positive direction. It’s massive for my family and I want to thank everyone involved for getting me to this position. No matter how I do in training and in games, I always want to do better, and do more for this club. I want the best for this club. It was great that I managed to get back into the team, but I want to keep improving and get better.”
Take a look at the full interview with Will below.