Luton star who helped club win National League now on verge of promotion to Prem

Luton Town took a giant leap towards their fourth promotion in 10 seasons after advancing to the Championship play-off final on Tuesday – but the feeling wasn't new to all in Rod Edwards' squad.

In fact, one star among the cast at Kenilworth Road has been with the club for each of those moves up the Football League ranks, dating back to 2014. It was then that Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu celebrated his first promotion in his maiden year with the Hatters, escaping the National League (which was still the Conference at the time).

Initially joining on loan from then-Championship West Ham as a centre-back option, Mpanzu soon cemented his place in central midfield for Luton. The former Boreham Wood prospect has steadily grown his profile with the Hatters and played every minute across both play-off semi-final legs as they beat Sunderland 3-2 on aggregate to reach Wembley.

READ MORE: Fans slam Watford's 'worst decision ever' as Rob Edwards puts Luton Town on brink of Prem

Edwards' side will face either Middlesbrough or Coventry City in that play-off decider, with that pair perched goalless after one leg and set to clash again on Wednesday. Luton reached last season's Championship play-off semi-finals but have gone one better 12 months on and are now 90 minutes from Premier League football.

Still just 29 years of age, Mpanzu has a major opportunity to embed himself further in the club's history if he can help lead that charge into England's elite. The Londoner is far and away one of the most experienced assets at Kenilworth Road, having racked up 366 appearances for the club in his nine-and-a-half-years there.

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That tally has the midfielder on the verge of joining Luton's top 10 appearance record-holders, with only 21 to go before he eclipses the figure accrued by David Preece. Only nine players in the club's history have managed to cross the 400-cap barrier in Luton colours, but one more campaign should see Mpanzu past that mark.

"We've got one more – see you at Wembley" was the player's response to Tuesday's 2-0 home win over Sunderland, successfully overturning a 2-1 deficit from their first-leg loss at the Stadium of Light.

It was a year after Mpanzu's first promotion to League Two that he was then joined by fellow West Ham graduate Dan Potts, who has been at the club for almost eight years. Other West Ham alumni have come and gone over the years, but the former remains as a stalwart of the club.

“I love it at Luton, everyone knows that," said two-times capped Democratic Republic of the Congo international Mpanzu after signing his last contract extension in 2021. "The Kenny has become my second home and we’ve achieved so much in my time here."


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