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Interviews

GROVE STREET | LUKE THOMAS

A section of our winger's exclusive interview in the Brentford edition of Grove Street

16 June 2021

Luke spent six and a half years with the Gloucestershire-based outfit before attracting the attention of Derby County in 2016.

But it could have all been so different for him after catching the eye of Portuguese giants Benfica while on a training camp with Cheltenham.

“We were staying with Benfica at their facilities, which were unbelievable,” he said. “I had doubts, being a first-year scholar, that I wasn’t going to play and I was a little short of confidence, I’d say. But, as soon as I went out there, something changed and I couldn’t stop scoring and assisting; I was playing well and scored nine goals in three games.

“I was getting trained by the Benfica coaches and I was in my hotel room asleep one afternoon while the other lads were at the pool and our coach came and knocked on my door. I was wondering what he wanted – I didn’t know if I was in trouble or something – and was half asleep, then he just told me to meet the coach by the pool.

“Jamie Victory was my under 18s coach at Cheltenham and he told me that Benfica wanted to take me on trial that evening, so I went and played against Real Madrid, so that was another unbelievable experience. I got injured after 27 minutes though, so it wasn’t a particularly good day.

“Their coach spoke to me and said they’d take me again, but they said as soon as I got back to England there’d be other clubs after me. I didn’t really believe them when they said that but, when I got back there were quite a few clubs interested.”

Despite the injury, Luke believes that a move to the continent at such a young age would have been too much, too soon as he sometimes struggles with homesickness – even now, only living a few hours away from home.

That factor played a big part in his first loan move to Gloucester City in 2017, where he was able to link up with his brother, Kieran, who was plying his trade at New Meadow Park.

“There were a couple of other options but I was a bit homesick at the time and my brother was at Gloucester too, so to have the chance to play with him and spend more time with my family was probably the best decision,” he asserted.

“It’s probably made me the player I am today because without the loan spell and manager, Tim Harris, at the time I wouldn’t be where I am today because it was such a good experience in learning for me.”

Order your Brentford edition of Grove Street to read the full interview with Luke.

Please note that limited numbers of this programme are available.


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