An emotional Danny Hylton reserved special praise for the Hatters fans and boss Nathan Jones after admitting he didn’t expect ending his lengthy six-year stint at the club would be quite as hard as it has been.
The 33-year-old had arrived from Oxford United in the summer of 2016, going on to score 62 goals in 170 games, win two promotions and also get sent off five times, all of which led to him becoming a huge favourite with supporters from pretty much the word go.
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Town fans quickly took to social media to thank the forward for his wonderful service to the Hatters, and speaking in a special interview taking place on the corner of a Kenilworth Road pitch where had enjoyed some of his best memories in football, Hylton said: “It has been weird.
“I didn’t think it would be so hard leaving a football club, it has been, but that’s a credit to the football club and the people at the football club.
“The messages and stuff like that have been unbelievable, messages from everybody so it has been really nice.
“It has been emotional but weird because when you have been somewhere for so long, it is weird leaving.”
Hylton’s status as a fan favourite was cemented on just his 11th appearance for the club, when he was sent off for throwing a litter picker of all things in the direction of a linesman in the final minute of a 3-1 home win over Doncaster Rovers to pick up his second booking of the afternoon.
Taking up the incident, he said: “I tried to hit him!
“I remember the game weirdly in my mind because they were one of the bigger teams.
"It was a weird thing because I thought the guy was obstructing me or he was fouling me, he wasn’t even trying to play the ball and the red mist came over.
“Once that comes I lost my bearings for five seconds or so, I don’t know what the litter picker was doing down there but I’ve never seen one around the pitch since to be fair.
“I just threw it nowhere near the linesman, it probably deserved a second yellow but I couldn’t believe the reaction I got after that.
“I thought ‘what have I done, I’m going to get in trouble for this,’ but then my song starts getting sung around the stadium and I thought ‘Jesus, this lot will do for me.’
“It probably helped that I scored a hat-trick a few games before that and it was nice.
"From that moment I thought ‘this is a great place’ because not many clubs would sing your song after you’ve just been sent off in a game so that was nice.”
After scoring 50 goals in his first two seasons, Hylton was one of the most feared strikers at League Two level, going on to score eight times in League One as Town won the title, suffering a knee injury that ended his season in March 2019.
With Luton back in the Championship and the attacker either injured or out of favour under Graeme Jones, he still got a superb reception when on the bench or even just warming up on the sidelines eager to get on.
He did eventually feature far more regularly once Nathan Jones rejoined the club, playing an important part in Town’s Great Escape which saw them stay up against all the odds after the season resumed following Covid, as he said: “My relationship with them was always brilliant.
"Obviously the goals and the promotions, being part of that helps, but from day one they took to me.
"When you hear your song sung, it’s unbelievable, it’s so nice, I thank them for that.
"It’s always nice when you hear your name sung and you’re sitting there, but then Nathan came back and I managed to get back involved.
“We wouldn’t have stayed up with anyone else, he just knew us as a group, the club, he’s the best man for Luton.
"I don’t think anyone else probably on the planet would have kept us in the league, but he did, so credit to him.”
When news broke of Hylton’s departure last week, Jones labelled the forward as his ‘best ever signing’ going on to declare he would ‘miss him every single day’ at the Brache.
The striker could barely get his own response out to the glowing tribute from a manager he was a special bond with, saying: “He’s brilliant, I’ve spoken to him, I’ve said what I need to say to him, so I won’t go into it all.
“He’s a fantastic guy, but away from him, it’s a club with brilliant people, the club has got amazing people, so I won’t say too much about him.”
And when asked for one more message for the supporter, a by now tearing up Hylton just about managed: “Just thank you, thank you for the past six years.”