Read the full interview with Ben Gladwin which featured in last Tuesday's edition of Red Dot.
Ben, you’ve been an MK Dons player for just over three weeks now - how have you found your time here so far?
“It’s been brilliant. I had that training period before signing here and that certainly helped me slot into the team. Everyone here is very welcoming and it has been a great environment to come into. Russ is trying to build his team to play the right way and I’ve enjoyed that.”
How do you feel you’ve performed in the three games you’ve played in?
“It’s been mixed really and a lot of that is down to match fitness. In general, though, it has been really good for me to get back onto the pitch, and a rhythm and flow, and get a feel for the game again.”
We won’t touch on the injury much, but how tough was that two-year period for you on the sidelines?
“It was a massive psychological hurdle for me to overcome. It was only afterwards that I looked back and realised how long I was out for. If I’m brutally honest, I don’t think enough is done to support injured players. I know other players that have suffered similar and people go through some really tough times. I don’t know what the solution to x it is because a lot of players are quite closed and don’t want to open up about it, but it’s something that I believe needs to be looked at for the health of footballers. The staff here have been brilliant with me. They know it will take me a few weeks to get back to my best and they understand it’s a process that I’m going through. I was a little bit nervous heading into the game against Coventry City but it was pleasing to come through the other side with the body feeling good.”
The team is currently fighting a relegation battle, with just three points separating us and the bottom three. What is the atmosphere like in the dressing room?
“It’s really positive. The manager has taken over fairly recently and you can see an upturn in performances and results since he’s taken over – that’s reflected in the dressing room. You need to go through a process when the style of football changes, but it’s been a positive process - the whole squad is together and we’re on a journey together. We are all of a similar age and we are all sociable outside of the club. There’s a good laugh every day but, when it’s time to work, we all get ours heads down. I think having a strong dressing room helps because you’re willing to help each other out and run that extra yard for your teammate. It’s important not to get carried away with recent results and, instead, focus on the way we are playing. Results haven’t been great, but if you watch the games, the way we are trying to control the matches is impressive. Once we get a little further down the line in this process, results will come.”
You’ve worked with Luke Williams previously, during your time at Swindon Town. How much are you enjoying working with him again?
“I’m loving it. I think he’s class and it blows my mind that he isn’t at the top level, to be honest. Hopefully, he can showcase his work here alongside the rest of the staff. They are a brilliant group of coaches and they are a brilliant t for each other. Russ has been brilliant as well. He gives great messages to the players, both about football and how to carry yourself with the atmosphere he wants to create here. It’s really enjoyable to come to work every day and be a part of his team.”
You made your Stadium MK debut against Sunderland. What was that like?
“It was brilliant. What a stadium! Who wouldn’t enjoy playing their football here? The result wasn’t what we wanted. I think we let the game go a little bit towards the end and that’s not what we want to do, but I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch this week and playing some more football here at Stadium MK.”
Looking back at the start of your career, you played several matches in non-league prior to breaking into the professional game. How important was that period in your career?
“I really enjoyed that time of my career. I was just enjoying just playing football and
I didn’t see my move to the Football League coming, to be honest. Of course, every kid wants to be a professional footballer but I just played for the love of it. Even now after the injury, it’s the same. I’ve reverted back to loving the game and trying to give the best performances I can. That transition to professional football for the first few weeks was tough as I was going from working a normal job to training every day. I was doing removals at the time and coaching on the side as well. Once you t into the routine, though, and settle in with the lads, it’s like playing football anywhere else.”
Finally Ben, away from football, how do you relax and take your mind off things?
“I’ve got a fiancé́ and a three-year-old boy and he takes up most of my time, keeping me on my toes. Away from that, I like to relax with my friends but, in all honesty, I just love football and watch it whenever it’s on TV – I’m a bit of a nerd for it!”