‘Not the type of player the manager wanted’ – 28-y/o opens up on Imps spell

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Juan Luque only played a small part in the Imps title-winning season, but he’s revealed he enjoyed his stay at Sincil Bank, nonetheless.

Luque arrived in the summer of 2018, a trialist from Heybridge Swifts who impressed Danny Colwey sufficiently to earn himself a six-month deal. After appearing in a handful of friendlies, he looked set to excite fans but was only given a brief chance in the first team.

The former Barcelona academy player appeared once in the league, coming on as a last-minute sub for Bruno Andrade as we beat Notts County 3-1. He then started, and scored, against Championship side Blackburn in the EFL Cup, before playing 80 minutes of our EFL Trophy game with Mansfield Town.

A brief loan spell with Bromley followed, before his final appearance for City, the 2-2 draw with Accrington Stanely in which Jordan Adebayo-Smith made his only Imps appearance. Upon completion of his six-month contract, Luque left for Concord Rangers. At the time, some supporters felt he deserved more of a chance than he got.

It seems as though the player himself had mixed emotions of his short spell in the Football League. Speaking to Non League Daily, he was asked if he felt happiness or frustration at his Imps stint.

“I’d say it’s both,” answered the current Maidstone player. “It’s happiness because of achieving a dream, and after I scored, I thought ‘I had a chance, I’ve took it, now I need to take the next chance,’ but after Blackburn, I didn’t really get any sort of chances. I speak to teammates now and they say ‘you deserved more of a chance’.

“It’s a shame for me, for whatever reason the manager didn’t play me, but I know they were big names in that team. The worst bit was that the contract was only for six months, because if it was a year, I would have had the experience of winning the trophy (League Two title).”

Luque finished by adding he perhaps felt he wasn’t quite the type of player Danny wanted at the time.

“I think I could have been involved in some games because I was doing well in training, but I was maybe just not the type of player that the manager wanted.”

After a tough spell at Dagenham, the likeable player is now with Maidstone, for whom he already has goals and assists, as well as being named their Player of the Month for October. I think Luque was always at a disadvantage coming into a team that was, on reflection, fairly expensively assembled. He captured the ‘dream’ for Danny Cowley, the player who fought his way up from the bottom and made his way into the Football League, but in practice, it was difficult to give Luque the games he needed. Maybe, if he’d gone to Bromely and bagged goals and assists as he is doing for Maidstone, he would have got another six months and that on-field celebration we all enjoyed.

Football is full of ifs and buts though, and it is nice to see him finally settled and thriving somewhere.

The rest of the interview can be found here.