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From Wembley to Africa! Jack’s life-changing experiences

Extensive interview with our home-grown left-back

16 January 2024

Club News

From Wembley to Africa! Jack’s life-changing experiences

Extensive interview with our home-grown left-back

16 January 2024

Jack Currie was one of around 25,000 Dons at Wembley in 2016, but less than a year later he was pitched into a completely different experience – a charity trip to Africa.

Helping those less fortunate humbled Jack and offered a sense of perspective as he strived to make the grade – and it’s still something he looks back on as a real game-changer.

And having made 79 appearances in all competitions for the Dons - a goal on his league debut at home to Gillingham realising a dream after joining us at the age of 10 – Jack will certainly never take his rise to the professional football ranks for granted.

Currently studying for a degree, Jack also grew up as an accomplished tennis player, so he’s far from your typical footballer!

That certainly came across during an extensive interview for our matchday programme recently and in case you missed it the full Q&A is reproduced in full below.

During your teenage years you previously went abroad on a charity placement. How did that come about?

It was a placement I went on for a month to help with charity work in Zambia and Botswana. When I was at Esher High they offered opportunities to go out there every few years. It was during the off season at Wimbledon and just before I started my GCSE’s.

We taught the kids how to play tag rugby, supplying kits, painting schools and putting furniture in. It is one of the most influential things that I have ever done in my life. We got to compare the privileged lifestyles that we lead compared to them, but they would have smiles on their faces, even though they had so little.

It was really rewarding to go out there and do my bit. I’m in a privileged position now of being a professional footballer at a team that’s local to me, and I certainly don’t take that for granted.

What did you learn from that experience that has stood you in good stead since?

What really struck me was just how grateful they were for everything we provided. They were so grateful to us for being out there, so it was very heartwarming to give something to them, but also for us to take away great memories from the experience.

The experience in Africa kind of stripped back everything, it was just the pure love of doing something worthwhile, and it made me grateful for what I have. I was living in rough conditions for a month – we were in hostels for a month with beds that were barely standing and paper thin walls. But you would wake up and see Zebras and Giraffes walking outside, so it was an experience I’ll never forget.

I’m very thankful for the life I’ve got, and privileged to have been playing professional football for Wimbledon for the last year and a half.

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You’ve now made 79 appearances in all competitions for Wimbledon at first-team level – has your progress surpassed your expectations?

If someone had told me it would work out like this a few years ago when I had issues with my back, I would definitely have taken it! I’ve always had confidence in my ability and I’ve always had in my mind that I’ve been at Wimbledon for a long time – 11 years now. I knew exactly what my goal was and now I’m living that every moment by playing for the first-team every week.

Going into my first year at Under-18s I sustained a stress fracture of my back – it put me out for a whole year. That meant no playing for me during all that time. I came back to fitness, but I had a scan and it still showed something, so there were a few issues with it. That was bad timing for me because I was at that age when I needed to impress to have a chance of playing professional football. It stunted my progress and it was difficult to watch all my mates playing every week, but I worked hard and managed to come back from it.

You attended the League Two Play-Off Final when you were coming through our Academy – did that provide inspiration to keep progressing?

I remember those days when I would watch the pros training – I got the feeling that it was a special team. I would definitely look up to them and it’s nice playing alongside Jake Reeves now as he was involved in my favourite Wimbledon moment!

It was great to be sat in the crowd at Wembley on the day the Club got promoted. It was a big day out for us with the Academy. Everyone was buzzing, we were all wearing our Wimbledon kits and we had those little flags with us. We knew how big the occasion was for the Club and we properly bought into it, so it felt like a promotion for us as well!

We’re currently seventh in the table now, so there’s a chance we could reach Wembley again – what would it mean to go back there as a player?

It’s everything that you dream of and it’s definitely something for us to aim for. We’re obviously not counting our chickens yet, but we’ve very focused on making the play-offs and I think we’ve got the personnel to do so. I believe the synergy of the group – and the confidence we have in each other – will hold us in good stead.

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We’ve heard in the past about you studying for a degree. How are you getting on with it?

I’m in the second year now (Business Management degree at St Mary’s College, Twickenham), so I’m about halfway through. I’ve been ticking the assignments off, so it has been going well, but it is challenging to balance it with my football. Though it has been tricky, I’ve been able to do it in a way that allows me to use the tutors for the course, so that I balance my time effectively. They’ve been very good in terms of communication, so that’s really helped me out.

The end of your playing career is likely to be a long time off, but does this fit in with your plans for after football?

Well, hopefully it’s a long time off! It’s something that my Dad is very big into, he has a lot of knowledge of business, so I’ve always been interested in it. I decided to learn business while I was playing, so that I’ve got another option.

What would you like to be doing if you were not a footballer?

When I was a bit younger I had a chance to go into tennis as well, funnily enough at St Mary’s! I played tennis all the way up until the point when I was offered a scholarship, but I made the decision to choose football. I was playing tennis from the age of 10 until I was 16. Football was always the main aim, but tennis was something I enjoyed playing and a sport I was quite good at, so I make sure that I watch Wimbledon on TV every year!

Was there a stand-out moment in your development as a footballer when you thought you had a great chance to make the grade?

At 15 and 16 I was playing for the Under-18s, so that was the first inkling I had that I had a good chance of making it, but I’ve always had confidence in myself.


Did you have trials at other clubs before joining Wimbledon?

I was brought up in East Molesey and while playing locally for Molesey Juniors and Corinthian Casuals I got scouted by Reading FC Elite (youth set-up below Academy). I was there for about a year, alongside playing for Casuals. Luke Shaw also came through at Molesey Juniors, so he’s someone I look up to as he plays in the same position as me.

I also got spotted by Chelsea FC Elite, but at that time it was a choice between going there or joining the AFC Wimbledon Academy. It was a no-brainer to join Wimbledon because I felt it offered me more of an opportunity – and I’m glad that I did! I believed that signing here would offer me more of a chance of playing week in and week out. Ever since I signed here at the age of 10 I’ve been playing regularly – and that put me in good stead for first-team football.

There seemed to be a really strong bond with the players you progressed through the ranks with – do you still keep in touch with them now? 

I went to the same school as Elliott Bolton and came through the ranks with him, so we still keep in touch. He’s at Weymouth now. I’ll sometimes meet up with Elliott and Archie (Procter) for a coffee. Archie is on loan at Eastbourne Borough, where he is getting games under his belt before going back to Dorking Wanderers. I keep in touch with a lot of the boys I played with when I was coming through. That was an important time in my career as it was a building block for what I’m doing now. Going out on loan to Leatherhead and Eastbourne was also key for my career as it introduced me to playing men’s football every week at a good level.

Who were the key coaching influences on your career?

Mark Robinson was the stand-out as I was with him from Under-16s, but Rob Tuvey and James Oliver-Pearce also helped me a lot. Tom Hounsell, who has been a coach at Fulham and Lecturer at St Mary’s, also coached me from Under-12s to Under-14s, and he was very good. He helped me with a bursary towards my university degree.

You are one of the players still here from last season when the team experienced tough times. What do you think are the main reasons for the turnaround this season?

We’ve all bought into what the gaffer really wants. We’ve built a foundation with a strong spine that has been working for us, and with characters who make us better. That’s a massive credit to the staff for bringing these players in, but I would also point to the mentality of the group as well. We’ve got characters in the squad who are good - both on and off the pitch. They know what winning looks like and that’s been shown by our start to the season.

The senior players we’ve got are all adding something, especially Lee Brown, for me. He has played in my position for a number of years and he has been there and done it, so he has been a big help to me. I know he is someone I can turn to if things are getting tough.

How much have you had to adapt your own game for what the manager wants?

Certain games have certain requirements and the gaffer has given me the freedom to just play my game, obviously within the structure that he sets. The importance of me getting forward more this season has been emphasized. Defensively, I feel, that I’ve always been fairly solid, so the main thing I’m working on with the staff is my attacking play, including impacting the play higher up. I feel that I’ve developed that side of my game quite a bit. Defensively, I think I’m quite sound, but my crossing and end product are things I’m working on, so that I can get a few more goal contributions.

We’ve got the players to be really solid in terms of defending set pieces and to be productive when we have our own free-kicks and corners at the other end. We’ve got a couple of giants in the team who would put their heads through a brick wall!

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What are your ambitions in football and for Wimbledon?

We want to win every game, but no team is going to do that, so it’s about being as consistent as possible, so that we try to build a legacy for the Club. Getting promoted is obviously the main aim and I think we really can do it if everything goes well in January. Personally, the aim is to play as high as possible. If that’s with Wimbledon, great, but the aim is to reach the highest level that I possibly can in my career.

I’ve got an emotional connection with the Club because I know it inside out and what it stands for. The goals and ambitions have aligned with my own because I was here before we moved to the new stadium. Plough Lane brings togetherness and emphasizes that it’s a family club. It’s amazing to be a part of it.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Scoring on my league debut at Plough Lane. It’s the dream of every young boy to score on their debut and it meant a lot to me. Defensively, heading is a strong point of mine, but going forward it’s not something I ever imagined me doing – my dream came true that day!

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