Read the full interview with Louis Thompson which featured in last Saturday's edition of Red Dot.
Louis, how have you found your time at MK Dons so far?
“I’ve really enjoyed it. We’re playing some really nice football at the moment and that has been the case since I arrived. My time here has been nothing but enjoyable from the moment I arrived here and I’m looking forward to that continuing.” You moved to Stadium MK in January, joining on loan from Norwich City.
What was it about MK Dons that made you want to come here?
“I worked with Russell [Martin] at Norwich City and he expressed an interest in me during the early stages of his time as a manager here. He’s got great faith in me, bringing me here following a few bad injuries. I probably not seen as a very attractive player and deemed as a bit of a risk, but he’s put his faith in me and it’s important for me to repay him.”
How nice is it to have a staff that really believes in you?
“It couldn’t be any better for a player and it’s perfect for me. I’ve worked with both Russ and Luke Williams during my career and I’ve really enjoyed my time with them. I’m improving under them all and hopefully, this period can be mutually beneficial for us all.”
You mention the injuries that you have worked your way back from. What advice do you have for younger players who may be going through similar stages in their life?
“It’s easy to say stay positive, but there were days where, if I didn’t have the support of my wife and my family to get me through it, I wouldn’t be sat here giving this interview. You have to take small individual wins when you’re injured and I don’t think you can just be focused on playing games - small wins such as getting back running and then getting back training with a football. When you do that, it creates little milestones and shows there is light at the end of the tunnel. That was the main thing for me.”
You played alongside the manager, Russell Martin, while at Norwich City. Did you always think he’d go into management?
“I always saw Russ going into management, yes. He was always a very vocal leader and he led from the front with his performances on the pitch. He took care of all the boys off the pitch too and those are the qualities that naturally transfer into management. He’s taken to it like a duck to water and I’m so happy that I’ve got the opportunity to help him. We’re now working together towards the same goal.”
Did it help your integration period into the team knowing so many of the people here?
“It made it very easy – it’s like I’ve been here all season to be honest. I knew Russ, Luke, Dean [Thornton] and Ryan [Harley] for a fair few years and that was really helpful for me. It’s been a lot easier than a lot other transitional periods I’ve had in my career. Even the lads that I didn’t know before arriving have been so welcoming. I’ve already built relationships with them all, which is always pleasing.”
How important is it to have a united dressing room in this fight against relegation?
“It’s key because I don’t think you can get anywhere without working a team. It’s like any organisation really – you’re only as strong as your weakest link. It’s nice that everyone is on board, regardless of if they’re playing or not. We’re all working towards the same goal. While I understand the position we are in, I don’t see any reason why we can’t aim higher. I feel we have the talent in our squad to push each and every team we play between now and the end of the season."
You played against MK Dons a handful of times here at Stadium MK during your career - what were your thoughts playing here as an opposition player?
“My thoughts were always that the stadium was incredible and the pitch was so big. As a player here now, I can see what an incredible club it is. The infrastructure is massive and it doesn’t feel like a League One club, to be honest with you. It’s nice to play here, as from top to bottom the club is filled with good people and that’s really important. I think in due time, the club will get to where it deserves to be.”
You and your brother, Nathan, have both made it as professional footballers. How proud are you of what you’ve both achieved?
“I couldn’t be any prouder to be honest. I had the pleasure of playing alongside him for a fair few years at Swindon Town and they were thoroughly enjoyable times for me and my family - there is nothing better than playing alongside your brother. He’s been very successful in the teams he’s played for – I’m incredibly proud of him.”
Football must have been a big thing in your house when you were both growing up?
“We literally didn’t stop playing football – we were very rarely in the house! I think the hours and hours we were playing helped us massively. We were always out with our mates and we didn’t even realise we were practising – naturally, you build your skill set that way. We both had good coaches at Swindon as well and Luke certainly played a part in that.”
When did you first think that football was an option for you to pursue as a potential career? “It was pretty early on. My brother is older than me and I always saw him taking that route, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I love watching football and I love playing it – everything I did growing up was based around football. I would say when I was about 10, I really started to think that football was something I wanted to do. You have to make sacrifices to do so and I wasn’t able to enjoy some of the weekends like my mates could at school. It’s all worth it now, though.”
You were given your debut at Swindon Town by Paulo Di Canio - what was he like as a person and as a manager?
“His knowledge of the game is incredible and his work ethic was second to none. I’ve said it in previous interviews, but he turned me from a boy into a man. He helped me understand the demand of the senior game and for that, I’ll be forever grateful. He would always tell me to be myself and that was the biggest bit of advice he gave me. He told me to ask if I ever needed help and to enjoy my time and make the most of each and every day. He certainly cultivated my work ethic too. It was tough and demanding, but I really enjoyed my time under him.”
Back to the present - how much are you looking forward to getting back in action this Saturday after the free weekend?
“Having a free weekend certainly builds the appetite for fixtures, but when you’re in a good spell of form like we are, you want to play games. What a break does allow though, is an opportunity to work on things that we need to improve upon. We’re looking forward to getting back out there and showing what we can do as a team. We’ve got a tough couple of fixtures coming up, starting against Bolton Wanderers, so we need to make sure we attack it from the start.”