The stories behind the Luton Town squad who've taken the Hatters to the Premier League

Luton Town have defied the odds this season.
Luton Town have defied the odds this season. Credit: PA

Few would have predicted it before a ball was kicked this season but, on Saturday, Luton Town pulled off the seemingly impossible by sealing promotion to the Premier League for the very first time.

The Hatters beat Coventry City at Wembley in a tense penalty shootout to win a match dubbed as the richest game in football.

Promotion to the top flight represents an incredible achievement for Luton, especially when you consider that they were among the lowest spenders in the Championship.

Luton's squad was assembled for just £5.5m, and their wage bill is one of the smallest in the division. Despite their financial constraints, they've managed to defy the odds.

Use our interactive graphic below to find out more about the heart-warming stories behind the men who are now immortal in the eyes of Hatters fans:

  • Ethan Horvath (signed on a season-long loan from Nottingham Forest)

Ethan Horvath. Credit: PA

Goalkeeper Ethan Hovarth has certainly crammed a lot of travelling into his career so far.

Born in the United States to a Hungarian father, his journey has taken him from his home town of Colorado to the Championship - via Norway and Belgium.

His professional debut came at Molde under Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjær - not that Hovarth knew who he was at that point...

"If you had asked me who Ole Gunnar Solskjær was at the time, I wouldn't have had a clue," Horvath said in a recent interview with The Athletic.

His form in Norway earned him a move to Belgian side Club Brugge in 2017, where he played in the Champions League, before he joined Nottingham Forest in 2021.

Horvath has fond memories of Wembley, having won the Championship play-off final with Forest a year ago - a feat he repeated again on Saturday.

  • Gabriel Osho (signed on a free transfer from Reading)

Gabriel Osho. Credit: PA

When Gabriel Osho swept home the opening goal of the semi-final second leg against Sunderland, he must have felt like pinching himself.

Having come through Reading's academy, he failed to make a significant impact in the first team at his local club, spending the majority of his time out on loan at lower league sides such as Maidenhead United and Aldershot Town.

When he turned down the offer of a new deal at Reading, Osho was in need of a new challenge.

Fortunately for him, that's when Luton stepped in, and the rest is history. He's now established himself as a key part of the Hatters' formidable backline, but Saturday's big day out at Wembley could be his last appearance for the club, with his contract set to expire in the summer.

  • Tom Lockyer (signed on a free transfer from Charlton Athletic)

Tom Lockyer. Credit: PA

If anyone sums up what Luton Town are all about, it's Welsh centre-back Tom Lockyer.

His stellar displays at the heart of the Hatters' defence earned him a place in the Championship team of the season, and his winning goal against Sunderland in the semi-final second leg will go down in Kenilworth Road folklore.

But it wasn't always this good. Most of the early part of his career was spent in the lower leagues at Bristol Rovers where he made more than 250 appearances, including a stint in the Conference.

Since joining Luton on a free transfer from Charlton Athletic, he's been a virtual ever-present - culminating in his best season to date this time around, with manager Rob Edwards even comparing him to legendary defenders Franco Baresi and Franz Beckenbauer.

  • Amari'i Bell (signed on a free transfer from Blackburn Rovers)

Amari'i Bell. Credit: PA

Completing the trio of free transfer signings in Luton's defence is former Blackburn Rovers player Amari'i Bell.

Much like Osho and Lockyer, he's had to graft his way to the top - having featured for Fleetwood Town and Blackburn Rovers in League One.

His move to Luton has been a huge success, so much so that he's now playing international football for Jamaica.

His proudest moment in a Reggae Boyz shirt came in September last year when he played against Lionel Messi in a high-profile friendly against Argentina in the USA.

  • Cody Drameh (signed on loan from Leeds United)

Cody Drameh. Credit: PA

Now Luton Town have achieved promotion, fixing up a permanent deal for loanee Cody Drameh is likely to be high up on their list of priorities.

The 21-year-old has made a big impression after joining from Leeds United in January who may yet be keen to keep him - especially if they are relegated from the Premier League.

Whatever happens, Drameh looks set for a bright future having consistently impressed in the Championship during loan spells at both Cardiff City and Luton.

  • Marvelous Nakamba (signed on loan from Aston Villa)

Marvelous Nakamba. Credit: PA

Joining Drameh in making a loan switch to Luton in January was Aston Villa's memorably-named midfielder Marvelous Nakamba.

The Zimbabwe international has certainly lived up to his name at Kenilworth Road, with his all-action displays making him an instant fan favourite.

In fact, his performances have been so impressive that fellow midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu has even dubbed Nakamba "a little N’golo Kante".

When he moved to Aston Villa for £12m in 2019, Nakamba became only the fourth Zimbabwean to feature in the Premier League after Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari.

Having helped to put the country on the map, there are now plans for Nakamba to have a statue erected in his honour in his home town of Hwange.

  • Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (signed for an undisclosed fee from West Ham United)

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu. Credit: PA

Perhaps the greatest story among the Luton squad belongs to long-serving midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.

The 29-year-old became the first player to make it all the way from the National League to the Premier League with the same club after the Hatters beat Coventry City in Saturday's showpiece.

Mpanzu was part of the Luton team that finally got out of the Conference after five years in the wilderness in 2014, and has been a mainstay ever since.

As Luton have risen through the leagues, Mpanzu has been with them every step of the way, becoming only the 13th player to make more than 350 appearances for the club.

  • Jordan Clark (signed on a free transfer from Accrington Stanley)

Jordan Clark. Credit: PA

Another player signed on a free transfer, midfielder Jordan Clark is a further example of someone who has represented magnificent value for money for the Hatters.

Having impressed for Accrington Stanley in League One, Luton decided to offer him a chance in the Championship and he hasn't looked back since.

A model of consistency, Clark himself reckons he is playing the best football of his career at Kenilworth Road and it's hard to disagree.

Like many of the Luton squad, he has never played in the Premier League, but that will change next season...

  • Alfie Doughty (signed for an undisclosed fee from Stoke City)

Alfie Doughty. Credit: PA

He didn't know it the time, but an underwhelming spell at Stoke City actually ended up kickstarting Alfie Doughty's Championship career.

Luton had previously tried to sign him from Charlton Athletic, but ended up getting priced out of a deal.

When Doughty failed to make much of an impact at Stoke, the Hatters finally got their man last summer at the second attempt and he's since gone on to become a key part of their success.

In fact, in a recent study, Doughty was ranked as Luton's most creative player - quite the turnaround for someone who could easily have been still warming the bench elsewhere in the Championship had things turned out differently.

  • Elijah Adebayo (signed for £250,000 from Walsall)

Elijah Adebayo. Credit: PA

Signed for a modest fee from League Two side Walsall two years ago, Elijah Adebayo has taken to Championship football like a duck to water.

A physically imposing striker, Adebayo scored 16 goals in his first full campaign in the second tier, and he has continued to impress again this season.

His displays have attracted admiring glances from elsewhere, most notably from England legend Wayne Rooney who tried to sign him for MLS club DC United last summer.

The 25-year-old could now face his former side Fulham in the Premier League next season - the club who released him in 2019.

  • Carlton Morris (signed for £2m from Barnsley)

Carlton Morris. Credit: PA

Luton shelled out a reported club record £2m fee to sign striker Carlton Morris from Barnsley last summer, but he has been worth every penny.

His 20 goals were pivotal in helping the Hatters achieve a third-placed finish in the Championship this season, with only Middlesbrough's Chuba Akpom and Coventry City's Viktor Gyökeres scoring more.

It's been a remarkable rise for Morris who failed to make the grade at boyhood club Norwich City, despite being part of the club's FA Youth Cup winning team in 2013.

The vast majority of his time at Carrow Road was spent out on loan, but he's now found a permanent home at Luton which will lead to him playing top flight football for the very first time.

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