The 2008-09 season was simultaneously a rollercoaster ride and deeply traumatic for Luton Town.
The Hatters started the season with an unprecedented 30-point penalty, leaving them with a mountain to climb in order to avoid relegation to non-league football.
Their players and coaching staff, along with the club’s passionate supporters, all fought valiantly that season but their efforts were ultimately in vain.
Luton finished bottom of League Two with a total of 26 points. Without the points deduction, they would have finished comfortably in mid-table.
But despite their relegation from the Football League, Luton still provided their loyal fans with unforgettable memories thanks to their surprise victory over Scunthorpe United at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.
Also that season - and not many people are aware of this - Luton’s Under-11s team were crowed European champions after beating Bayern Munich in the final of the Aarau Masters, a televised five-a-side tournament in Switzerland played in front of 3,000 spectators.
Luton’s youngsters pulled off a shock victory at the tournament, which also featured the likes of Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.
The Guardian have now found out what became of the young lads who won the trophy for the Hatters.
The 19-year-old, who can play in midfield and defence, is now a first-team regular at Kenilworth Road.
Justin has made 18 appearances so far this season, scoring three goals, and has also represented England at Under-20 level.
Born in Bedford, Frankie Musonda is still at Luton Town and has made a handful of appearances for the first team.
The 20-year-old defender has also enjoyed loan spells with Braintree Town and Oxford City.
Jamal Lewis entered the world of athletics after winning the Aarau Masters - competing at an elite level over 1500m and 800m - before eventually settling for a career in football.
The 20-year-old is currently shining for Championship leaders Norwich City and has also played for Northern Ireland’s national team five times already.
Three years after winning the Aarau Masters, Jay Dasilva ended up signing for Chelsea, along with his brothers Cole and Rio.
The defender, 20, has impressed in Chelsea’s youth ranks in recent years and is currently on loan at Bristol City in the Championship. Oh, and he’s also made seven appearances for England’s Under-21s.
Like his older brother, Jay, Cole Dasilva went on to score in an FA Youth Cup final for Chelsea.
He has also represented Wales at youth level and is currently on the books of Brentford.
And here are other promising young players who were on Luton's books around the same time...
Michael Cain - no, not that one - joined Leicester City in 2013 for a potential “six figure sum”.
However, the midfielder failed to make the grade at the King Power Stadium and has since slipped down the leagues. He now finds himself playing his trade with Hemel Hempstead Town in the National League South.
Signed by Arsenal for a “significant transfer fee” at the age of 16 in 2012, Tarum Dawkins is another player whose career appears to have been hindered by joining a top English club.
He has since played for the likes of Arlesey Town, Wingate FC and Hendon Town in non-league.
Dave Moli sealed a move to Liverpool after catching the eye at youth level with Luton, but has since struggled to make it in professional football.
“The hardest part about all of that was leaving home at the age of 14 and moving into a new school,” he was quoted as saying by English Players Abroad earlier this year. “That side of it I didn’t really enjoy and struggled a lot, and ultimately, it started to affect me and my game.”
Moli has played for a number of random clubs since leaving Anfield, including New Radiant in the Maldives and Parnu Vaprus in Estonia.
Snapped up by Tottenham in 2010, Janoi Donacien then joined Aston Villa shortly afterwards before making his professional debut in 2014 while playing on loan at Tranmere Rovers.
The 25-year-old is currently on loan at Ipswich Town from Accrington Stanley.
One of the most recognisable names among Luton’s former starlets, Cauley Woodrow is now a Premier League footballer with Fulham.
The England Under-21 international, however, is currently on loan at League One side Barnsley as he continues to learn his trade.
The 19-year-old midfielder, who shares his name with the famous cartoon aardvark, scored his first professional goal for Luton earlier this month.
Tyreeq Bakinson is currently plying his trade with League Two outfit Newport County, on loan from Championship side Bristol City.
Another lad now on Bristol City’s books, Freddie Hinds has spent time on loan at Cheltenham Town and Wrexham.
Another former Luton youngster now shining at Norwich City, Max Aarons has made 16 appearances for the Championship leaders so far this season, scoring one goal.
The 18-year-old, who is a cousin of Newcastle United’s Rolando Aarons, has also played four games for England’s Under-19s.
Cameron McJannett joined Stoke City in 2016 but has failed to force his way into the Potters’ first team.
He was recently loaned out to National League North outfit Curzon Ashton FC.
So, there you have it.
Winning a big tournament at youth level is, unfortunately, no guarantee of a future in professional football.
That said, most of the lads have managed to forge out a career for themselves in the game.News Now - Sport News