Hatters keeper Sluga hails the 'massive' influence of Luton legend Mick Harford

Assistant boss highly praised by Croatian international

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 15th May 2021, 9:17 am
Updated Saturday, 15th May 2021, 9:18 am
Simon Sluga celebrates with Mick Harford after beating Watford last month
Simon Sluga celebrates with Mick Harford after beating Watford last month

Town goalkeeper Simon Sluga has hailed the huge presence of assistant boss and club legend Mick Harford since he arrived at Kenilworth Road.

The Croatian international moved to Luton in a club record deal during the summer of 2019, signed by former boss Graeme Jones, when Harford was originally head of recruitment.

However, when Jones left back in April 2020, Harford took over as relationship manager between the board, staff and the playing squad on football matters, until Nathan Jones was reappointed a month later, with the former striker then named assistant boss, his latest role for the Hatters.

Unsurprisingly, Sluga wasn't that well versed in the achievements of Harford’s career prior to joining, the 62-year-old scoring 92 goals in 217 matches over two spells for Town, also playing for Chelsea, Derby County and Newcastle United, with two England caps to his name as well.

However, he soon researched just what Harford meant to Luton and the supporters, who quite rightly hold him in hero status, as the shot-stopper, speaking to Luton's official website, said: "When I was coming here I didn't know who or what is Mick.

“I was reading about the club history, but after the first couple of times I was there when I started to know him and to be aware of what he meant to the history of the club and how big he was and everything.

“As a person he is unreal, so friendly to everyone.

"He can explain it very very well about every game, the situation you're going to have, how important it is, how you can improve as a person.

"He’s massive, like a figure to have here around us and to have a good connection with the staff and the players is always very important.

"I see that everyone loves him, everyone respects him, so I can say just nice and beautiful words about him, because it's true.”

Harford also played his part along with Jones, in letting Sluga and his team-mates know just how much the importance of their derby day clash with Watford was last month, the Hatters going on to secure a first home win over their fierce rivals since 1993, courtesy of James Collins' second half penalty.

Sluga added: "For me, we maybe we didn't play our best game in terms of beauty of football, or that we had the ball all the time in our feet, but they couldn't get the ball, they didn’t do three passes in a row at any moment of the game.

“We went from the first second to the last second and they didn’t have one shot in the target,

"I didn’t have anything to do apart from kicking balls and crosses, they scored at the end but it was offside so that was it.

"I think with the crowd, take that game exactly how it was and I think the stadium would have collapsed or something like that.

"We were really happy, the gaffer and Mick, all the staff were telling us the importance of that game.

"So we were aware of what we can achieve with the victory so sentimentality, it was the biggest game this is for sure.”