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Exclusive interview with Charlton’s new signing Luke Berry on Nathan Jones’ impact on his career, hunger for more success and why he only wants to score meaningful goals


Luke Berry has already got a highly impressive list of achievements in his playing career but that doesn’t mean Charlton Athletic’s new signing isn’t hungry for even more success.

The 31-year has scored in all five of England’s top five divisions and he is the only Luton Town player to net at every level from League Two to the Premier League.

Berry won three promotions with the Hatters as well as the Conference Premier play-offs and FA Trophy with Cambridge United.

The last of the midfielder’s 158 appearances for Luton came at West Ham United’s London Stadium in May. His 17 Premier League appearances last season included action at Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal, the latter being the club that his family support.

The fact Berry is ready to drop back into League One is due to the Nathan Jones factor.

The Welshman, appointed Addicks manager at the start of February, was Luton’s boss when Berry arrived in Bedfordshire in August 2017.

“I’ve had really good spells with him,” Berry, who has signed a two-year deal at Charlton with a club option of an extra 12 months, told the South London Press.

“When I first signed for him in League Two he just gave me brilliant belief to see what we could do – to see if we could push up the leagues.

“He said, from the first minute, that Luton could push into the Championship. I thought ‘this guy is mad’ but he was right in the end. He’s just a great guy.

“I didn’t believe in myself that I’d play Championship and Premier League. For someone who didn’t fully know me to say that, from minute one, was quite a shock. For it to come true, I owe him a lot.”

Luton Town’s Luke Berry and Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Kenilworth Road, Luton. Picture date: Saturday April 20, 2024.

Berry has credited Jones, who had two spells as Luton chief with a short tenure at Stoke sandwiched in between, as being instrumental in developing him, along with Rob Edwards, currently in the Town hotseat.

Berry scored 22 goals for Cambridge in the campaign before Jones identified him as a priority signing.

“He instilled the all-round game in me, mainly focusing on key areas of the pitch and making sure I was arriving in the box at the right times,” said Berry. “He was making sure I was doing my defensive work.

“Previously I was a bit ‘run all over the place’. He tidied me up into more of that central midfielder, a number eight or number 10 kind of player, who picks up the right positions in the right areas.”

The highlight of Berry’s career so far came on May 27, 2023. It is highly unlikely to be topped.

Luton Town 1 Coventry City 1 after extra-time at Wembley in the Championship play-off final. Berry converted the fifth penalty in the shootout. Fankaty Dabo’s miss sealed a 6-5 victory and the Hatters’ return to England’s top flight for the first time since 1992.

Berry said: “You guys know, from (Charlton) going up through the play-offs, it is tense, isn’t it? It’s all on the line and it went down to the penalty shootout.

“It’s that relief when the guy missed. It was a brilliant feeling. I took the fifth pen and the lad missed the sixth.

“We did loads of prep. It was worse when I was waiting (to take my penalty). When I started walking up to take it then it was fine. That was all down to our practice. We didn’t take loads.

“We took one – but did it properly, if that makes sense. I think there were two weeks in between the semi-final and final, so if there with eight training sessions we probably took eight penalties – but they were done match quality. You had to do the walk, you had to take it properly – no dinking.

“The stadiums we went to in the Premier League are fantastic but it’s a tricky one, because we didn’t stay up in the end. It’s quite disappointing – because I thought we had a great chance of doing it.

“We were always going to give it a go. At times we were leading and we needed to be a bit more sensible, shut up shop and bits and bobs.

“The quality of that league is amazing – we were going up against people who were worth £100million. I don’t know how much Luton spent, but it wouldn’t have been £100million.

“It’s such a big gulf – in money as well as in quality.”

Berry penned a farewell message to Luton fans after confirmation of his exit in which he talked about “the best seven years of my life”. Now comes new surroundings, even if the manager is one he is totally familiar with.

“It was a great seven years, I’ll never forget that, but it is time now to close the page and start new memories,” said Berry.

“I’m still hungry. I’m really hungry to get promotion, get goals, play loads of games – I can’t wait to get going.

“I want to have more success. There is nothing better in football than having success.”

Berry has scored 87 goals in 461 appearances. His response, when asked how to felt to score at Nottingham Forest in March – and  chalk off netting in the Premier League – underlines his professionalism.

“It was a great thing,” said Berry, whose 89th-minute strike earned a 1-1 draw. “It’s more important that they are important goals. That is the key, there is no point scoring consolation goals.

“It’s very important to me, if I’m scoring goals, that they mean something. It meant a lot to me.”

After Charlton’s recent struggles to make any kind of dent in League One – being firmly out of the promotion chase before the Christmas decorations came down – there is a determination that actions, rather than words, count.

But Jones, handed a long-term contract when he succeeded Michael Appleton, is viewed as the man to wrench the Addicks’ fortunes around.

His success at Luton, on a budget that did not match some of their competitors, was a huge attraction to the Charlton hierarchy.

“The thing everyone wants to do at Charlton is try and get out of this league,” said Berry. “It isn’t an easy league to get out of but, with the experience I have, I’m hoping I can help other players as well, pass on my knowledge.

“I want to push on, try to put this club into the Championship and hopefully more than that, if we possibly can.

“We need to get promoted and the most important thing is sticking together with the fans – being positive and working every day and every game – trying to get a successful story for this season.”

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