Marvelous Nakamba has thanked Aston Villa fans for the reception he received on his return to Villa Park last weekend.
The 29-year-old Zimbabwe international was back on familiar turf with new club Luton Town, the club he joined after five years with Villa before his permanent move to Kenilworth Road in the summer.
Nakamba helped Luton win promotion the Premier League during a loan spell last season and now he is looking to keep them there.
That is proving to be no easy task with Luton picking up five points from their opening 10 games, including a 3-1 defeat to Villa last time.
Nonetheless, Nakamba received a generous reception from Villa fans in recognition of his popularity at the club after joining from Club Brugge in 2019.
Speaking about the ovation, he told Luton Today: “Of course it was a good feeling.
“I’m someone who’s more close to people, more close to everyone that is around me helping each other, so of course it was a good feeling from both fans to get that reception.
“It keeps me going to still stay grounded and still stay humble. It’s somewhere I’d been for a long time, it was a little bit strange (going back), but it’s football, it’s part of the journey.
“I’m very grateful for what they did for me, grateful for the club, the fans, everyone, my former teammates there, some I still speak to them now regularly, so it was a good time. It was a big game for me, going back.
“In England they were the first club that gave me the chance to play in the Premier League, so it was a good time to go back there and the reception I received also.
“I saw some friends there, and the fans, the players, everyone around the club. It was a good moment for me, but a pity we didn’t get the result that we wanted as a club for Luton.”
Signed from Belgian Pro League outfit Club Brugge for a fee of £11m in August 2019, Nakamba went on to play 68 times in all competitions for the Villains as he was a firm crowd favourite, winning the club’s Player of the Month award in November 2021 when Steven Gerrard was in charge.
However, he was then sidelined by a knee injury which kept him out for a few months and also saw him miss Zimbabwe’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament in January 2022, returning to feature in the final games of the season.
Nakamba then didn’t play for Villa in the 2022-23 campaign, as once Gerrard was sacked and four-time Europa League winner Unai Emery replaced him, he was allowed to leave on loan, heading to Kenilworth Road in January.
He was a huge factor in why the Hatters were at Villa Park in a top flight contest, with his stand-out performances seeing Luton enjoy play-off success by beating Coventry City on penalties at Wembley in May, netting in the nerve-wracking shoot-out himself.