BY SAM SMITH
AFC Wimbledon new boy Terell Thomas has cited the club’s story as a key reason for joining – and claimed their former goalkeeper Seb Brown played an important role.
The South Londoners have risen through the divisions at a rapid speed, earning six promotions in 13 seasons from the ninth tier of English football to League One.
The 22-year-old signed from Wigan Athletic last week and made his debut in Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Brighton at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
He said: “I was told by Wigan that an offer from Wimbledon was there and they wondered if I wanted to go, and straight away I thought: ‘That’s a no-brainer for me’.
“Wimbledon is close to home but I’ve also heard bits about the club, their story and players coming here and doing well so that was really exciting.
“I’ve been briefed about Wimbledon’s story. I knew a bit about it before. When I was at Sutton, Seb Brown was the goalkeeping coach and he mentioned it – a bit more than he should have I guess! So yeah, I know the club’s story really well.
“[Manager Neal Ardley] has been fantastic. He’s welcomed me into the group. Even the boys have been great, it sometimes doesn’t actually feel like I’ve only been here a week. They’ve welcomed me into the squad and made me feel like a part of everything so I’m really happy.”
The centre-back has spent the majority of the last three seasons on loan in the National League, before joining Wigan last summer – although he only made eight senior appearances for the Latics.
The first two campaigns took him to Woking and Thomas feels the mixture of playing in a relegation-threatened Cards side, his brief period involved in the successful first team at Wigan, and spending time at promotion-chasing Sutton has given him invaluable experience.
“[The year at Wigan] was about the experience. I wanted to play but sometimes things don’t work out how you want them to.
“It was good to be around a team that was winning and it provided me with the mentality of what I needed to do day in day out to be successful. That’s one of the main things I took from Wigan.
“The season before last I played around three-quarters of the season at Woking. That was my first full season in a senior side.
“It was good to go back to that level [the National League] with Sutton last season, particularly in a side that was doing well. At Woking it was just about trying to stay up so it was good to get experience of fighting for promotion at Sutton.”
Sutton missed out on promotion to the Football League last season, losing 3-2 to Boreham Wood in the play-offs. But Thomas is looking to put that behind him and fight for a place in Wimbledon’s starting 11.
He added: “As a player you don’t go somewhere to not fight for your place. I haven’t come here just to sit around. Everyone wants to play and it’s good to have that competition in the team because it pushes everyone further.
“In training there isn’t anyone laying around saying: ‘Yeah I’m not trying because I know I’m going to start at the weekend’. Everyone needs to push each other and make a statement that they want to play. The competition between players is good for the squad.
“I feel ready for the season. I did the rest of my pre-season at Wigan before I arrived here and now I feel ready to go. Now I’ve just got to focus on getting to know the system because I’ve been training with two different teams over the past few weeks and it takes a while to gel in.”
IMAGE BY PAUL EDWARDS
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