Charlton AthleticSport

Exclusive interview with Terell Thomas on Valley exit and ticking off his ambition to play at senior level for Charlton


Terell Thomas has plenty of reasons to approach this summer with optimism after clocking up the most minutes he has played in a season since he entered the professional ranks.

The 28-year-old centre-back made 43 appearances in all competitions for Charlton Athletic last season.

Thomas was an ever-present in the last 18 matches and did not miss a minute after Nathan Jones was appointed manager at the start of February.

He also finished third in the club’s Player of the Season award, voted for by supporters.

You can make a strong case that if there had been more churn in the Charlton Athletic squad – a greater number coming out of contract – then it is likely that Thomas would have been offered an extension.

Instead the defender, capped five times by St Lucia, will be a free agent when his Addicks terms expire at the end of June.

Charlton Athletic v Bolton Wanderers SkyBet League One, The Valley, 28 October 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

Thomas came through the youth ranks at Charlton before leaving in 2017 without making a senior appearance.

His return in September 2022, initially on a 12-month deal, meant he could tick off his dream of representing the Addicks.

“I was ball boy for the first team when I was 13 or 14,” Thomas told the South London Press. “Then I went into the scholarship and full-time. My first professional season, Bob Peeters was the manager, I was on the bench a few times in the Championship but never got that appearance.

“It was always something I really wanted to do.

“When the opportunity came to have a chance of going back I was all for it, because it is a club that I can say I kind of support. I watched them so much growing up.

“I had some great times in the last two years. I have zero regrets, at all, about choosing to come back.

“It (being released) was a bit unexpected. But I knew there was always a chance, because it is this manager’s first window and he might want to change things up or go a certain way – anything can happen in football.

“But considering I played a lot of the games it was a bit of a surprise.

“That is football, isn’t it? We’ve got to knuckle down and move on, see what happens in the future.”

Gillingham v Charlton Athletic Emirates FA Cup, Second Round , Priestfield Stadium, 02 December 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

Thomas’ respect and admiration for Jones is abundantly clear.

The Welshman oversaw a 14-match unbeaten run that pulled Charlton away from the threat of relegation to League Two.

Thomas describes his meeting with Jones after the season had finished as “a positive conversation”.

The East London-born player added: “He was happy with the way I led the group – in terms of driving the group, how I trained and helping the club keep League One status.

“He said that I started every match under him – so it wasn’t to say he didn’t rate me as a player, but just that unfortunately circumstances at this point in time is why we are saying we can’t offer you a contract. I’m not going to go too deep into details on it.”

Thomas clocked up 999 league minutes in his first campaign back in SE7 compared to 2,875 this time around. His previous best was 2,650 for AFC Wimbledon in the 2019-20 League One season.

“I’ve most definitely played a lot of football and under three managers,” said Thomas.

“Mentally that has been tough but I have shown resilience, in terms of having to restart twice. When a manager goes it is almost a restart, in terms of the relationship.

“I pride myself on that side of things.

“I continually showed I was a good player and I was able to put in performances to get those starts and those appearances.”

Picture: Paul Edwards

One of the highlights for Thomas was one of the most dramatic matches seen at The Valley in years.

Charlton fought back from 4-2 down to draw 4-4 with Ipswich in October 2022 but that does no justice to explaining events.

The Tractor Boys looked to have the three points in the bag as they scored twice in stoppage time.

Thomas halved the deficit in the sixth minute added on before George Dobson completed the comeback in the 99th minute. Then Addicks boss Ben Garner was sent off straight after Ipswich went 2-0 up.

“I just remember the noise of the stadium when Dobbo got the final goal, to make it 4-4,” said Thomas.

“It was a bit frustrating some people left when it went to 4-2, but I understand why!

“That was a standout moment, for sure. So was coming on at Shrewsbury. That was my first appearance for the club. That meant a lot to me personally.”

Another cherished memory is captaining Charlton in their 2-1 win at Derby on February 27 – a first victory since November and a massive shot in the arm to their survival prospects.

Charlton Athletic v Bolton Wanderers SkyBet League One, The Valley, 28 October 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

“It was an honour,” said Thomas, of wearing the armband. “It was even better we got the win. It felt amazing, leading the lads out. I’ll hold that in high regard. I’m really proud of that moment.”

Thomas is quick to acknowledge that Charlton’s season was one of under-achievement, but also takes some satisfaction from finishing behind winner Alfie May and runner-up Dobson in the club’s Player of the Year awards.

“It shows I’m not the only one who believed I had a decent season,” said Thomas. “The fans’ opinion does mean a lot to me and you do really care how they feel about you as a player. Sometimes I might feel I got a bit of stick I didn’t deserve, but that’s football.

“I’m happy to get third in that decision. It was a good send off for me. I want to thank the fans for the way they supported me.

“The last two seasons, what we wanted to happen didn’t transpire on the pitch. I don’t know, but maybe some stuff upstairs had some effect towards the squad. Ever since I was a young boy at Charlton it has always been up and down – uncertainty.

“We went up to the Championship for one year, then back to League One for a few years, then Championship for a season. It’s never been stable.

Charlton Athletic v Exeter City SkyBet League One, The Valley, 03 October 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

“The club has never had that stability of where they are headed. But hopefully now with Nathan Jones – he knows what direction he wants to take the team and how he wants to play – they can gain that stability and kick on as a club.

“In terms of what is going on behind the scenes, it is ready to explode.

“I’ll always keep an eye to see how they are doing and I really hope things go well for them next season. I believe they can get that promotion because the person in charge is the right man for the job.”

Thomas has interest from abroad -Hungarian side Ferhervar, who have snapped up Charlton skipper Dobson, are keen – and there are also suitors at League One level.

“I’m positive,” he said. “I’m not thinking about it too much. I’ve got a good team behind me and I believe that they are doing things right. It happens when it happens.

“Football is a thing where the phone isn’t ringing for a couple of days but then in a week’s time you have got a load of things happening. Once the ball starts rolling it is like a snowball effect.

“Now the leagues are finished things will start going now.”


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