Stevenage’s Young Player of the Year Luther James-Wildin: ‘This season has been everything I could I have hoped for and more’
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Stevenage defender Luther James-Wildin spoke to CometSport reporter Dan Mountney after he picked up the club’s Young Player of the Year last Saturday. Read on for an exclusive feature, in which the 21-year-old opens up on a ‘great season’, despite a difficult year in his personal life.
When Luther James-Wildin joined Stevenage from Nuneaton Town last summer, it was a step into the unknown for the Leicester-born defender.
After being released by Notts County as a 19-year-old without making a first-team appearance, he moved to Nuneaton, managed by none other than Dino Maamria.
He clearly impressed his boss, as at the end of the 2017/18 season, Maamria brought James-Wildin to Stevenage for an undisclosed fee.
12 months on, he is a regular in the Boro side after making 39 appearances in League Two, a fan favourite at the Lamex and the club's Young Player of the Year.
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Reflecting on his first season in Hertfordshire and picking up the award, he told CometSport: "It's a great feeling. I was saying to the lads that I didn't expect it so to hear my name was a great feeling.
"I've just said to Arthur Iontton that I'm sure it was close and he's had a great season, so has Ilias Chair, but I'm delighted to get the award. It's a special moment.
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"This season has been everything I could I have hoped for and more. I just hope in the future that I can do even better really.
"I want to keep being involved, I want to keep playing, I want to keeping being more involved in goals and winning as many games as possible.
"It's been a great season and this award really sums it up for me so I'm really happy."
His impressive first season at Stevenage hasn't been without its struggles, with James-Wildin describing his first season in the Football League as 'tough'.
"It's been everything I expected it to be but the reality is that it is tough," he said.
"Every week you are playing for something and it feels huge. You've got bigger crowds, better opposition, so it's been a big step for me and I can't wait to go and better it next year."
His biggest test has been off the pitch though.
"My brother was diagnosed with leukaemia on the 5th of December and ever since he's been going through his chemotherapy," said an emotional James-Wildin.
"We found out not long ago that he needed to have a bone marrow transplant and luckily me and my little brother were both matches for him, so two days ago I did the stem cell transplant for him.
"It's all gone successful so hopefully it's on him now. He'll battle through it, he's got the hardest part to come but he'll get through it."
Despite his brother's diagnosis, the 21-year-old believes it has brought the best out of him, adding: "Football took my mind off of it at times.
"I particularly remember Lincoln at home. I'd just found out he'd been diagnosed so that was an emotional game for me. I feel like it brought the best out of me though.
"It's not been easy, there have been ups and downs but I just tried to use his strength and perform for him.
"It's just been part of a big season for me."
After three seasons playing at three different levels, James-Wildin is looking forward to staying at the Lamex and kicking on in the 2019/20 season.
"I'll be here next season and I'm really looking forward to it," he said.
"I feel like the past three seasons I've played in the Evo-Stik league for a year, the Conference North for a year and now League Two for a year so it's going to be the first time I can play in the same league, so I'm really looking forward to almost feeling comfortable and going and really expressing myself.
"My goal for next year is to just go and produce more goals and help the team."
Follow Dan on Twitter @JournoDanM