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Ilunga: Hard work starts now

Youngster discusses his first professional contract...

26 October 2021

Brooklyn Ilunga received a phone call from the Chairman after putting pen to paper on his first professional contract with MK Dons and was offered a piece of advice that the youngster has taken on board right away.

Ilunga has impressed since making the step up to the first-team squad, not only with his performances on the pitch but his effort and commitment off it too.

That is why the 17-year-old has been rewarded with his first deal in professional football but he knows full well that this is only the start of the journey – something Chairman Pete Winkelman told him during their conversation.

“The work starts now,” Ilunga said in his interview with iFollow MK Dons. “The Chairman congratulated me and told me the hard work starts now and this is just the beginning.

“I’m grateful for the first contract, but it’s just another objective – I need to look for the next one now.”

Ilunga, who is one of eight Academy products in the current first-team squad, has made four senior appearances so far, including a first career start in last month’s Papa John’s Trophy victory over Wycombe Wanderers.

The versatile left-sided player is enjoying but, crucially, believes he is benefitting, from his exposure to senior football at an early age.

“I wasn’t expecting my second year as a scholar to go like this but I’ve loved being around this group of players - they are fantastic people,” he said.

“Dean Lewington is the biggest role model here. Every training session he is giving me advice to help me get better. I’m grateful to have him as a captain and someone I can speak with.

“I also speak with David Kasumu and the older lads who have progressed through the Academy about their experiences. It’s good to have a group of people around you that have had the same journey – I look up to them and I hope I can follow their career.

“I’m happy with the group of staff and to work with them. They are on me for every little thing and I am grateful for that. They help me get better every single day.”

Life will be different now for Ilunga after moving into the professional environment but the young Don remains humble and grateful for those who have played their part in his journey so far.

“I’m grateful for the club for all the opportunities they’ve given me and the chance to show what I can do. I’m grateful to God and thankful to the staff for helping me develop.

“I hope I can make you all proud.”

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