Former Luton boss Nathan Jones has been thanked by midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu for playing a huge part in him reaching his milestone of 200 games for the club last weekend.
After making his debut for the club in November 20, 2013, Mpanzu’s early days with the Hatters were hampered massively by a number of frustrating injuries, so much so it took him over three years and just under three months to make his 100th appearance for the club.
However, Mpanzu’s improved durability has seen him complete his second century in a little over two years, as he said: “Everyone knows, I was playing and got injured, a lot of hammy’s.
“I got over it, Jared (Roberts -Smith, ex- head of sports science) who’s gone to Stoke with the former gaffer Nathan Jones got me fit, got me fighting.
"Now I can play 90 minutes every game, every season, and it’s been a good turnaround for me.”
Mpanzu played a mere 40 games in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns, upping that dramatically to 88 in the following two seasons.
On just how difficult it was with all the niggles preventing him from figuring regularly, he continued: “It was definitely hard. Everyone wants to play every minute, so it was more mentally.
“I had the family around, friends around to keep me going, and thankfully it worked, now I’m playing, it’s good.
“John Still was an old school manager, ‘run this, run that,’ but Jared, they brought sports science into it.
“They managed me, how I train, how I play, in the gym, so I’ve got to thank them and Luke (Sanders) and El (Elliot Plant) have continued it, so it’s been great for me.”
Current boss Mick Harford gave Mpanzu's work in the week a glowing tribute too, saying: "He trains every day, never misses a session.
"When he does the sessions, he’s flat out, full at it, wants to do extra, and he’s just been massive for us this season.
"Hopefully he keeps progressing and gets better.“
Mpanzu was on course to not miss a minute of league football this season either, as he had played every second until the home game with Rochdale recently.
Then he was replaced by Dan Potts with 15 minutes to go, saying: “I thought I played well in that game as well, so thought ‘why am I coming off?’
“I said to Shins (Andrew Shinnie), ‘is that 11?’ ‘No, 17.’
“So at least I’m playing every game, it was good to get a little rest, but the season isn’t over yet, a couple more games and hopefully we can get up.”
When asked what has changed at the club in the five years and counting he has been with Luton, Mpanzu said: “When I came, we were at Ely Way, Portakabins, the pitch wasn’t great.
"The gym was there, one rack for 20 people, but we’ve got a new training ground, a lot more staff, a lot more better facilities, the training pitch is much better.
“So really there has been a mighty change and the stadium, we’ve got planning permission, hopefully it goes through and the club is on the rise.”
Finally, when asked for his best memories since signing on the dotted line, Mpanzu added: “There’s a lot, it’s great to get a promotion, but two and hopefully three, that’s the main things.
“The Conference is one of the hardest leagues, everyone else has got to chase you.
“When I came, we were behind Cambridge, we had a great run and we got promoted, it was a great feeling and a good time for the club.
“I think I’m the only one that’s remaining, thankfully I’m still here, I thought I’d be gone by now, but great that the club believes in me and hopefully I can repay the faith.”