Collins: It was a difficult decision to leave Luton after four years with the Hatters

Striker talks exclusively to the Luton News about his reasons behind moving away from Kenilworth Road

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 6:45 am
Striker James Collins in action for Luton last season

Former Luton striker James Collins conceded it was a difficult decision to end his four year stint at Kenilworth Road last week and agree a move to Town’s Championship rivals Cardiff City.

The 30-year-old, who was out of contract with the Hatters this summer, turned down fresh terms to remain with the club, opting to head to Wales and sign for the Bluebirds.

Collins joined Luton in the summer of 2017, netting 72 goals in 183 appearances for the club, the 13th highest scorer in Town’s history, as speaking exclusively to the Luton News about his reasons for moving on, said: “It was definitely a difficult decision as I’ve been at Luton for four years, the club have been great to me, I love playing for the club and we’ve had really, really good success since I’ve been there.

“But I just feel this is the time for a new challenge for me.

“I’m at the age now where I want to try and play in the Premier League at some point.

“When Cardiff showed their interest in me, that was one of the factors that I could move to such a big club.

“They’ve been in the play-offs a lot and they were a Premier League team a few years ago, so I felt this was the opportunity, the right time to try something different.”

Collins had been a wanted man after finishing as Town’s top scorer for the third successive season, with double figures in the Championship once more.

A number of clubs, including the Hatters, made a play for his services, as he continued: “I had three or four offers, I had some good offers from some good clubs in the Championship, but I felt that working with Mick (McCarthy) before with Ireland and the size of Cardiff as a club, I thought that would be the best club for me, and I’m really pleased that it got done.

“Luton only offered me a contract with two days to go from the season, so it was quite a quick turnaround.

“I had a chat with the manager (Nathan Jones) and he explained that he wanted to keep me but he understood that I was a free as well and I’d done quite well for the club, so there would be others interested.

“He was good with me and just said ‘let me know what you want to do, have a think about it’, and that’s what I did before I signed for Cardiff.

“Me and the gaffer, we’re close, we’ve been close ever since I signed.

“He was honest with me, I was honest with him

"He understands that the club have got a structure and the board have got a structure and he understood if I get good offers somewhere else and bigger clubs, he’ll let me go with open arms, as he understands football, he’s been in the game a lot of years.

“I spoke to him before I went down to Cardiff and he wished me all the best, he was really pleased for me.”

Collins admitted that he had started to question whether his future was with the Hatters during the final months of the season after losing his place to January signing Elijah Adebayo.

The Irish international only started four of the last 16 games and when asked if he began thinking he might have to move on, he continued: “Yes, I suppose I did.

“I knew that I hadn’t started as many games as I’d have liked to this year, Elijah has come in and done brilliant, I’ve got no arguments with that, he was fantastic.

“But Luton was my club, it was the club that I played for, I had so much success with and I think you can see over the last four years, I’m a player that doesn’t miss many games, I’ve rarely been injured and I wanted to play games.

“It was tough at times, I understood the reasons, but maybe in the back of my head I knew maybe it might be the time to move on and I think I’ve made the right decision at the right time of my career and try to push to get in the Premier League.

“I don’t think any player wants to be on the bench, but coming from three seasons back to back, probably starting pretty much every game and then starting this season, it wasn’t down to the manager all the way it was partly my fault, my form had dipped, I was missing chances, but that’s football.

“Elijah came in and has been great and I managed to get back in the team, score a few goals and finished the season quite well, so that was obviously another pleasing thing.

“It’s quite a nervy time though, I’ve never been a free before, I’ve always been in contract wherever I’ve been.

“One little injury or one little bad run of form and you’re a free and nobody will want you,

“But I’m lucky that I stayed injury free and finished the season quite well with goals, so I’m just really fortunate that I had a few options.”