Justin hails an 'unbelievable' reception on his Luton return
Former Town defender James Justin described the reception he received from Hatters fans when returning to Kenilworth Road for the first time last night as ‘unbelievable’.
The 21-year-old was back with new side Leicester City for the Carabao Cup third round tie that Foxes eventually eased through, winning 4-0.
Justin himself was on target, grabbing the second just before half time, his goal met with applause from all sides of the ground, with the home supporters eager to show their respect for the academy graduate who made 114 appearances for the club before leaving in the summer.
Speaking to the press afterwards, he said: “I’ve never seen it to be fair, unless someone’s scored like an unbelievable goal, like say (Gareth) Bale in the semi-finals of the Championship League.
"But it was unbelievable to be clapped by the home fans after scoring against them, so I’m just thankful.”
Town boss Graeme Jones admitted he had never witnessed such a moment before, but felt it was another display of class from the Luton supporters in attendance.
He said: “I’ve not seen it live, I can think of Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid at Juventus when he scored the overhead kick.
“I remember Juventus supporters standing up and applauding, it’s probably that was why he signed for them, because I think it was special thing.
“But I think Luton's supporters showed their real understanding of football.
"I think their reading of the game was very fair and also to appreciate James the way the did, I just think that shows the class that we’ve got here.
“It’s a strange thing as he scores the second goal against you and I think our bench wanted to clap him as well, just out of appreciation of what he’s done for the football club and he's so respectful, it's typical of the guy.”
The goal when it arrived saw Justin escape Town’s back-line to volley home Belgium international midfielder Turi Tieleman’s fantastic dink into the area.
On the strike, he said: “We did the same thing in pre-season and talked about it in the game.
"He’s such a young guy but he’s so intelligent, he just knows where people are going to be, he put the ball on a plate and I just tucked it away.”
A powerless keeper James Shea said: “Of course, it was written wasn’t it?
"I didn't even see him come in, he's come out of nowhere and to be fair he finished it well.
"But we've got to stay with runners and see the danger and try to get through the half time."
Although Justin didn’t celebrate his goal, he did allow himself a lap of appreciation at the end, applauding all corners of a ground he grew up as as professional in, making his Football League debut and going on to win two promotions.
He said: “I’m not really an emotional guy to be honest, but I definitely felt it.
“It was a great reaction from the crowd, I just want to thank them for the last few years, how much they’ve helped us a team get to the Championship.
"Hopefully this season, it's going to be a bumpy ride, but just stick with it and you’ll come out on top.
“It was what I wanted, I didn’t get a chance last season due to we were champions and it was nice to just get a reception and show the fans how thankful I am.”
Meanwhile, Justin admitted it was an odd experience going into the visitors’ changing room prior to kick off, having spent his entire career previously heading to the home one.
However, once out on the pitch, he was able to put the occasion out of his head for majority of the contest, adding: "The home dressing room’s a lot nicer to be fair.
"It was weird walking straight down into there instead of going to our old dressing room, it was weird to say the least.
“As soon as you step on the pitch you have to flick a switch and be focused on the task at hand.
"There were a few breaks of play where I let them in basically and it was nice to hear the fans singing the song and I’m grateful.
“It was kind of two evils and it’s obviously a disappointing result for you guys, but I’m over the moon personally.
"It’s a debut I’ve always wanted and to show everyone what I can do and I'm happy to get on the scoresheet and keep a clean sheet."