Long-lasting promise brought Thornton to MK Dons

Dean Thornton
Dean Thornton

An agreement made nearly 15 years ago saw Dean Thornton arrive at MK Dons as the new goalkeeping coach.

Thornton met Dons boss Russell Martin while the pair were youngsters at Wycombe Wanderers, and agreed early in their careers that, should Martin become a manager, Thornton would be one of his coaches.

And barely had the dust settled on Martin's promotion to manager at Stadium MK, he called Thornton to offer him the job to coach Lee Nicholls, Stuart Moore and Laurie Walker.

"I met Russell when I was about 16, he was about 18, we were at Wycombe," Thornton explained. "I was a YTS and he was a first year pro. We spent three years together, and I knew straight away he'd be a manager or a coach at least. We've always stayed in touch. We came up against each other when I was at Swindon and he was at Norwich in the cup, and we spoke about it again!

"It all started with Russell giving me a call on Sunday morning. We'd spoken for years about me working with him if he became a manager, I'd have to be ready! It came out of the blue, but I always said I'd help him and I kept that promise. That's why I'm here!"

Thornton's playing career came to an end at 19 when he was released by Wycombe, and it kick-started his coaching career. Having grown up around the QPR ranks, he worked his way up the ladder to Head of Academy Goalkeeping before moving back to Swindon to work with the first team - where he first worked with Moore. Another bolt from the blue saw him coach the Taiwan national team before returning to England as a goalkeeper consultant - watching keepers and reporting feedback.

But after Martin took over from Tisdale, Thornton returned to coaching, this time with Dons.

"I know how big the club is and how big it should be," he continued. "It's now up to us to get us there. I'm very impressed with the group, they're a positive bunch of lads, they want to work together and that can only help. We have to transfer what we do on the training pitch onto the playing pitch. At the moment, we're in a tricky position but that's football.

"There is still a lot of football to go, but that's why we're here and we're determined to put things right.

"I've missed the competitiveness on a Saturday, fighting for three points, whereas I've been watching games with a notepad! Now, it's about fighting for the cause."