Dons' U18's league title breeds a winning habit

Edu Rubio
Edu Rubio

Edu Rubio hopes MK Dons' U18's Youth Alliance League win will breed a winning mentality.

Rubio's side came from behind to beat AFC Wimbledon on Saturday to win 2-1 and secure the league title with two games to go.

It is the first time in Dons' history they have won the title, and Rubio hopes claiming the crown feeds his player's desire to win.

"Winning is an important habit," said Rubio. "But you have to understand it and have to do it in the right way to create a DNA for the football club.

"I'm very happy we've won the league, but the next league starts in February - let's go again.

"I'm very proud of the team, but not just because of winning the league. This is the consequence of a very good job done. I've always said the most important thing is daily improvement and happiness.

"I'm very happy for the players and for the staff. All the academy staff have to take credit, but I want to highlight Dominic Blossom (sports science), Callum Tychowski (performance analyst) and Tom Gittoes (physio) have worked wonders with the players."

Despite falling behind to AFC, Charlie Pattison equalised before Recoe Martin sealed the win with seven minutes remaining to wrap up the title.

And though it was two U18s sides battling it out, Rubio said the importance of beating the club's biggest rivals means just as much as it does to the first teams.

He said: "Ultimately, it's part of our history. We aren't just developing players for elite football but for our first team. Of course they have to understand the history, and what those games mean to our supporters because it's important they connect with that. It's important to understand what makes this club tick.

"But AFC were very good, hospitable. When they were winning, they didn't hide the balls or did things like that - they were true gentlemen. Afterwards, they came into our dressing room not just to congratulate us on the win, but on the league win too, and wished us luck in the FA Youth Cup.

"That rivalry is healthy and it's good to have, but it has to remain with the fans."

The victory however hasn't just been felt by the fans, but also the players of Robbie Neilson's first team squad.

"We've felt so supported by the first team," Rubio added. "I'm delighted because they've been come to our training to say well done to the boys, sending us messages. When they've trained with the U23s, they've been very involved. We've felt genuine love from them - it's not like they put it on social media because they have to."