Malvin Kamara has nothing but fond memories when reflecting on his time with MK Dons.
Kamara played 59 times during his two-year spell in Milton Keynes and was a popular member of the inaugural MK Dons side in 2004.
The winger returned to the Dons last Saturday as part of the ‘Once a Don, Always a Don’ initiative being run by the Club this season and took time before the clash with Crewe Alexandra to reflect on his spell in MK.
“It’s definitely great to be back,” the now-35-year-old said. “From a playing perspective, it was probably the best time in my career.
“It was my first professional experience. I was a young footballer, moving away from home. I learnt so much, on and off the pitch. They were some of the fondest memories I had.
“Having a connection with the fans was an amazing experience. If I’m looking at the supporters for the teams I played for, the ones who were probably the best to me were the MK Dons fans. I still remember the songs they used to sing!”
He continued: “It’s amazing to see how the place has grown. When I left the Club, we were still playing at the Hockey Stadium. I remember seeing the plans [for Stadium MK] and we came to visit when it was just a building site. I’m a bit shocked, to be honest, with how impressive the stadium is.
“I’m playing here for the Legends team against Spurs [in May] so I’m looking forward to that. I’m definitely going to buy a fresh pair of white boots for that one!
“Hopefully the Club can get promoted and get back to League One and then move on from there. I think it’s a stadium that belongs in the upper echelons of the sport.”
The 2004/05 campaign is fondly remembered for the dramatic 2-1 victory over Tranmere Rovers on the final weekend - a result which ensured survival from relegation.
Kamara wasn’t involved in that win at the National Hockey Stadium but remembers the game - and the post-match celebrations - very well.
“I remember it well! I remember going out and partying afterwards like we had won the league!
“It was a difficult time for the Club, making that transition to MK. There wasn’t really a culture and an ethos around the Club.
“That game alone probably put the passion into the supporters and created that connection with the fans. It was one of the best days ever!”
Kamara retired from the professional game in 2009 following spells with Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town and now runs his own recruitment agency - Vallum Associates.
“I lost a bit of passion for the game when I was 26/27 and went into limbo,” he said. “Finishing the game is one of the toughest things a player has to go through as well as transitioning into normal life.
“I managed to find my way into recruitment and discovered I was pretty good at it. A lot of what I need nowadays I learnt from my football days - being disciplined and hard-working.
“I started a recruitment company called Vallum Associates - so if anybody is looking for a job, then check us out!”
Vallum Associates offer bespoke people services, including traditional recruitment and innovative consultancy and coaching services, to energy, water, telecommunications and financial services businesses, and more - click HERE for more information!
MK Dons' Once A Don, Always A Don player visits are made possible thanks to Osmo UK.