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Interviews

Packing a punch ahead of Burton!

Promotion hero Darius aims to inspire our current crop of defenders

21 January 2022

Our experienced centre-back Darius Charles knows all about mixing it with football’s heavyweights – and now he wants to help our young defenders to roll with the punches!

“Boxing is something I enjoy,” said Darius. “Every Friday morning I get myself down to the park at 6.30 am and I do boxing sessions with my coach. It’s brilliant for me because it is a release. It acts as meditation and is an opportunity to get fit. It’s competitive and I’m very competitive. 

“It allows me to release some of that competitive energy, while I’m not out there playing or training. I’m glad that it’s rubbing off on the boys in a good way.”

Having helped Wimbledon into League One at Wembley in 2016, Darius moved onto Wycombe and helped guide them to the Championship in 2020, again via the play-offs. Now Darius is looking to pass on his considerable experience, having recently been appointed as a player-coach with the Dons.

“It’s extremely important to me,” said Darius. “As someone who has got experience in the game, I can now impart that wisdom and help teach someone like Dan Csoka the tools that will help him go on and have the career that his talent asks for.

“He came in and did a brilliant job in keeping a clean sheet (against Portsmouth on Tuesday) - the first time we’ve done so consecutively. Dan put in a great performance. We spoke about things that he wanted to do in that game, which he executed, and now it’s about that continued conversation with him and the other centre-halves about how we can get better as a defensive unit. It’s really important as the backbone of the team that we set an example.”

With both Will Nightingale and Ben Heneghan back in contention for the trip to Burton tomorrow, Darius is looking forward to helping Paul Kalambayi – another member of the “centre-half family” as he calls it – return to full fitness.

“PK is brilliant,” said Darius. “He’s wise beyond his years. He has a great voice, he’s a thinker – logical and rational - things I didn’t have at his age! Now, for him coming back to fitness, it’ll be a case of staking a claim to get in the team, keeping the shirt and hoping that those performances lead to Wimbledon and himself doing better moving forward.”

Tomorrow afternoon’s match at the Pirelli Stadium takes Darius back to Burton and he has a lot of respect for his former club.

“Both are relatively small teams in this league, but they have a real grounding and are run in ethical ways, with morals and values,” said Darius. “The chairman at Burton is a brilliant man, who I enjoy sharing conversations with. Both are two really brilliant clubs and it’ll be a good game this weekend that we’re really looking forward to.”

You can listen to our extensive interview with Darius Charles by clicking on the link below.


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