Luton Town midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu has admitted he’s an Arsenal fan, and he’s hoping to achieve promotion so he can face his boyhood club.
On Saturday, Luton Town take on Coventry City in the Championship play-off final, with a place in the Premier League up for grabs.
Aside from the obvious opportunity to play in England’s top tier, 29-year-old Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu admits he’s also motivated by the chance to play against Arsenal.
“I’m an Arsenal supporter,” Mpanzu told BBC Sport. “So I want all the Arsenal guys to come and experience this (Kenilworth Road stadium). The Sakas, the Jesuses, the Odegaards.”
If Luton can achieve promotion, Mpanzu will have one of the most unique stories in English football’s history.
The midfielder first joined Luton Town on loan in 2013/14, before signing permanently in the January transfer window. At the time, they were still a National League club.
Mpanzu and Luton achieved promotion that season, playing four seasons in League Two, before going up to League One in 2018/19, then the Championship in 2019/20.
After four seasons in the English second tier, they could be set to make that last step up to the Premier League this weekend.
Promotion would make Mpanzu the first player to go from the National League to the Premier League with one club in that way.
Mpanzu even has some sixth-tier appearances on his CV, as Boreham Wood were playing in the National League South (then Conference South) when he first made his breakthrough into senior football.
To play in every division from the National League South to the Premier League in ascending order would be quite something.
But Luton Town still have a major obstacle to overcome. Coventry City have already seen off 4th-place Middlesbrough in the play-off semi-finals, and they didn’t even concede a goal across the two legs.
From an Arsenal point of view, young loanee Brooke Norton-Cuffy will likely be playing for Coventry City in the final. So Mpanzu and Luton Town will have to overcome at least one Arsenal player to meet the rest in the Premier League.
Mpanzu did have one chance to share a pitch with Arsenal’s stars earlier this season, as Luton Town took on the Gunners in a mid-season friendly at London Colney.
But if Mpanzu wants to play at the Emirates Stadium and welcome Arsenal to Kenilworth Road, Luton will need to win on Saturday.