EV­ERY­THING I DO IS FOR TRAGIC JACK

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Luke Baker

YOU’RE play­ing for your boy­hood club, man­aged by one of your child­hood he­roes. You’ve just taken apart your lo­cal ri­vals and even got a photo with an­other idol af­ter the match. Life would ap­pear to be pretty per­fect for Ben Thomp­son.

Yet, dig just be­neath the sur­face and the Mill­wall mid­fielder ad­mits he is mo­ti­vated by tragedy.

On De­cem­ber 20, 2014, Thomp­son’s younger brother, Jack, died sud­denly, aged just 16, when his heart stopped while he was stay­ing with his cousin.

Thomp­son marked the two-year an­niver­sary of Jack’s death with a heart­felt Twit­ter mes­sage and then, just 24 hours later, was a terrier at the heart of the Lions’ mid­field as they ripped Charl­ton to shreds in a 3-1 vic­tory at The Den.

Steve Mori­son net­ted two of the goals and, as part of his cel­e­bra­tion, the striker lifted his shirt to re­veal a mes­sage for Jack.

Thomp­son ad­mits de­feat­ing the Addicks in style was a day to re­mem­ber.

Bit­ing

“Words can’t de­scribe it re­ally – it’s the best feel­ing ever,” said the 21-year-old. “With me be­ing a Mill­wall fan, play­ing against Charl­ton at home in front of 15,000 peo­ple and beat­ing them like that is great.

“It’s un­be­liev­able, es­pe­cially af­ter my week. That Tues­day was two years since my brother died – he used to come down here and watch all the time.

“For Moro to lift up his shirt and have the vest say­ing ‘this one’s for you, Jack’ is the best feel­ing ever.

“The mem­ory of Jack is ev­ery­thing for me. If he was to watch me and I wasn’t putting in 100 per cent, I know I’d come home and he would tell me. He’d tell me straight!

“He was a mas­sive Mill­wall fan, sat in the East Up­per and came to ev­ery game, so ev­ery­thing I do is for him.”

As he has been for most of the sea­son, Thomp­son was su­perb against Charl­ton and set the tone for his side with a string of bit­ing tack­les.

Al­ready man­aged by Neil Har­ris – who he sought out for a photo and au­to­graph in his younger years as a fan – Thomp­son then met an­other Mill­wall leg­end in the af­ter­math of the derby suc­cess.

“I got a lit­tle photo with Teddy Sher­ing­ham,” ex­plained Thomp­son. “I was quite happy with that!

“I’d never met him be­fore – I’ve seen him a cou­ple of times but never ac­tu­ally met him. I had a lit­tle chat with him, though, and got a photo. I was buzzing. “He just said how well I’d played and con­grat­u­lated us on the win.” Thomp­son burst on to the scene last sea­son, be­com­ing a reg­u­lar starter in the sec­ond half of the cam­paign as Mill­wall made it all the way to the League One play-off fi­nal be­fore los­ing 3-1 to Barns­ley. The young­ster has kicked on even more this term, his con­sis­tently im­pres­sive per­for­mances surely draw­ing the in­ter­est of clubs fur­ther up the Foot­ball League pyra­mid.

Hard­est

Yet he couldn’t be hap­pier in ful­fill­ing a child­hood dream by pulling on the Lions’ jersey.

“I’m re­ally happy with my per­for­mances so far,” added Thomp­son. “I was told at the end of last year that the first sea­son is the easy one. It’s the sec­ond that’s harder be­cause you have to build on it.

“At the end of last year, I did re­ally well and we got to the play-off fi­nal, so to im­prove on that was tough. But I’ve got to go out there ev­ery week and do what I do – smash peo­ple, pass the ball and oc­ca­sion­ally shoot!

“Ob­vi­ously it would be nice to play in the Cham­pi­onship or Premier­ship, if that ever hap­pened, but right now I’m play­ing for Mill­wall and I love it.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

TERRIER: Mill­wall’s Ben Thomp­son in ac­tion with Charl­ton’s Ade­mola Look­man

SPE­CIAL TRIB­UTE: A pitch for Jack

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.