Nakamba urges Luton team-mates to ‘give everything’ in battle for Premier League survival
Ahead of their first ever Premier League campaign, Hatters midfielder Marvelous Nakamba has urged his team-mates to ‘give everything’ in their efforts to survive in a division they battled so hard to reach last season.
Following a season in which Luton suffered play-off heartache, when an injury-struck side was beaten 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals by Huddersfield Town, they returned for the 2022-23 campaign eager to go one better.
Although previous manager Nathan Jones left in November to join Southampton, Rob Edwards took over and if anything that gave Town the boost they needed to realise their goal.
With Nakamba himself arriving on loan from Aston Villa in January, Luton got up a head of steam that saw them not only reach the play-offs, but go on and win them, courtesy of a never to be forgotten penalty shoot-out victory over Coventry City at Wembley.
Town start their top flight season at Brighton this weekend as the bookies favourites to go down, but the Zimbabwean international, who has returned on a permanent basis, signing a three year deal, said: “We just have to continue training hard, working hard and fight for the badge, for the club, give everything, and just be positive in everything we do.
“We’re there to compete, we have to give everything.
“It’s one of the best leagues in the world, so we just have to take it in our stride.
“We fought for it, to get where we are now, so we’ve just got to continue giving everything, trying hard and working hard and believe also.”
Looking back at that magical day at Wembley just a few months ago, although the contest was eventually decided by the lottery that is spot-kicks, Nakamba felt his side were worthy winners.
He continued: “It was a special moment.
“I felt we deserved it, the way we were performing as a team, we just had to believe, stick together and with the support from the fans, from everyone around the club, it was up to the players to give a positive result and give everything for the match.
“We had to celebrate as a team and as a group as it was a good day. I remember before the gaffer saying, ‘you just have to give everything, it can be a funeral or a party.’ Luckily for us, it was a party after the game in the dressing room.
“Everyone was celebrating, I was so happy to see everyone smiling.
Nakamba himself played a big role as Town’s opening goal was started by his ability to be in the right place to break up play inside his own half.
He also found the net from 12 yards during the shoot-out as well, saying: “The interception, it goes to Alfie (Doughty) and he passes it to Eli (Adebayo), a little bit of magic, Clicks (Jordan Clark) also, a good goal.
“We needed that goal after we missed a few chances, but as a team we’re pushing each other, ‘come on boys, this is the time, we just have to give everything.’
“I spoke with the goalkeepers (before the shoot-out), everyone, I was more positive.
“I’ve scored one with my national team and missed one, but I was positive and confident.”
The midfielder’s move to Bedfordshire was met with a wonderful reaction from Luton fans, who were thrilled to see one of their most popular loan additions agree to join the Hatters.
Nakamba added: “I appreciate the support, whether they are negatives or positives, I always take more of the positive ones.
“I believe in life you have to be more positive in helping each other and I really appreciate the support back home in Zimbabwe, here in the UK, all around Africa, all around the world, we appreciate the support.”