Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu: Meet the Luton Town star who's gone from non-league to the Premier League

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu made history at Wembley.
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu lifts the play-off trophy at Wembley. Credit: PA

When Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu decided to leave the Premier League a decade ago to join Luton Town, he was taking a huge leap of faith.

Back then, the Hatters were a National League club.

Following relegation from the Football League in 2009, they'd struggled to get back up again, but the arrival of Mpanzu on loan from West Ham United helped to change their fortunes.

Having opted to make his switch permanent, Mpanzu's belief in the project at Kenilworth Road was rewarded with promotion under then-boss John Still in 2014.

It wouldn't be his last.

As Luton have progressed up the football pyramid, Mpanzu has been with them every step of the way, representing them in every tier of the EFL - right up to the Championship.

Mpanzu celebrates scoring for Luton Town in League One in 2019. Credit: PA

Players and managers have come and gone, but the one constant in that period has been the presence of Mpanzu in the heart of Luton's midfield.

As the man himself puts it, it's been quite the ride.

"It's been a long 10 years, man," he joked to ITV News Anglia before Saturday's Championship play-off final against Coventry City.

"I'm part of the furniture here. It's been a long ride but we've still got one more 90 minutes to go. There's been some pain, some heartache, but a lot of promotions and we've got one more to go."

Now Luton have achieved that final promotion missing from his CV - Mpanzu has created his own unique piece of football history.

Victory in the Championship play-off final means he's become the first player to go from the National League to the Premier League with the same club - a remarkable feat that's testament to his loyalty and talent.

  • Watch an extended interview with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu

"It's been crazy," he said, reflecting on his journey.

"You've got to thank all the managers and staff that have believed in the players, especially me. The fans have been behind us throughout the whole thing."

Mpanzu himself is keen to play down the impact he's had at the club, instead deflecting the credit to his teammates, but for others, there's no doubts about how significant his contribution has been.

John Still was the manager who brought him to the club on an initial loan deal from West Ham in 2013.

It was a signing that could hardly have gone better, and 10 years on, Mpanzu is still as integral to Luton as he was back then.

Former Luton boss John Still. Credit: PA

"He (Mpanzu) must look back at it now and I bet he can't believe how well it's worked out," said Still.

"He left a Premier League club to come here and to further his career. I don't think for one minute he'd have thought he would have furthered that career to the point of playing again in the Premier League."

Even after Still's departure in 2015, every Luton manager has continued to pick Mpanzu and he has now made more than 350 appearances for the club.

The most important of those appearances came at Wembley on Saturday where Mpanzu once again made the starting XI under current boss Rob Edwards.

"Pelly is just the life and soul around the training ground. He's always relaxed, he's always himself - that never changes," Edwards told ITV News Anglia before the final.

"It would be an unbelievable story wouldn't it? If we can do it, there'd be no one I'd be happier for than him."

An unbelievable story that now has the unbelievable ending it deserves.

As Mpanzu said himself after the game, he's now "completed football", and who are any of us to argue with that.

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