Tom Naylor on Wigan Athletic move - and upsetting family and friends

Tom Naylor admits his move to Wigan Athletic has proved to be the right decision – both on and off the pitch.

Saturday, 13th November 2021, 1:21 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th November 2021, 1:24 pm
Tom Naylor

The 30-year-old midfielder – currently sidelined with a hamstring injury – has been a revelation since joining Latics in the summer.

Having decided to turn down a new deal at Portsmouth, he looked set to sign for hometown club Mansfield in League Two, before Latics made their move.

For the first time he’s revealed the huge amount of soul-searching that went into the biggest decision of his career – which risked upsetting his family and friends.

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And how a slideshow delivered by Leam Richardson helped him make up his mind.

“I was talking to the club for two or three weeks, and the manager was telling me what he wanted from me,” Naylor said.

“I came up here to meet the gaffer one on one, and he showed me a slideshow of what I would be doing if I was to sign, the formation we’d be playing and how I’d fit in.

“Everything about it was just perfect for what I wanted, it suits my game to a tee.

“It nearly didn’t happen at one point, due mainly to family reasons...I’ve been away from home for so long at Portsmouth, we had a little girl due in July, and my mind was everywhere at the time.

“All of our family and friends were back in Mansfield, and there was an offer on the table to go there.

“I think I was trying to make my family and friends happy, and trying to stay local rather than look for what was best for me.

“I thought about it long and hard and thought I still had so much to give at a higher level, so I was ‘let’s just do the deal with Wigan’.

“The next day I was here, and I’m so glad I made the decision, because the group, the staff and the fans have been brilliant from day one.

“It’s one of the best dressing rooms I’ve ever been in – there’s no egos whatsoever.

“In football, that’s one of the most dangerous things you can have, it ends up dividing the place.

"But here there’s no-one like that, and it’s rare to see.”

Naylor also points to a runaround he received at the DW last term for first sowing the seed in his mind.

“I remember coming here last season with Portsmouth, and we got battered at the DW,” he added.

“Somehow we came away with a 1-0 win, but I remember going in at half-time and saying: ‘We need to do something here or we’ll get battered’.

“Thelo (Aasgaard) marked me out of the game that day, and that’s the first thing I told him when I joined Wigan.

“He told me that was the plan, and it frustrated him a bit, because he wanted to get the ball in other areas.”

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