Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie at Wembley against Tottenham will mark an emotional return to the venue for long-serving Dons left-back Callum Kennedy.
The defender lost his father in the run-up to AFC Wimbledon’s League Two Promotion play-off final triumph over Plymouth, but celebrated on the day with a T-shirt underneath dedicated to his dad that said: “For you fella”.
“I think back on that day with extremely fond memories that my dad would have absolutely loved to have been there to watch,” said Callum in an interview to our premium iFollow Dons subscription channel.
“That’s all I wanted to leave that day there with, knowing that I did myself proud and him proud and we got the result we wanted.
“I have unbelievable memories. I just remember feeling a complete certainty that we were going to win. I just remember that as soon as we got out there I felt calm and relaxed – just like we deserved to be there and that we belonged being there.
“It’s amazing to be going back to Wembley. Last time we were there, it was one of the best days of probably most of our lives. We got the result we wanted that day and it led to moving into League One.”
Sunday will be a very different test for Callum and his Wimbledon team-mates, as they come up against multi-million pound opposition playing at their temporary home while their new stadium at White Hart Lane is being completed.
“You can only really focus on what you are going to do,” said Callum. “We can have a good solid plan for how we think they are going to play, maybe put a few things in place to try and stifle them.
“Obviously though they’ve got quality throughout the entire squad and have three or four starting elevens that they can play that would all have quality players in there. It’s going to be about how well we stick to our jobs and the plan that gets put in place for us, not letting the occasion get the better of us and just enjoying every minute.
“This is bit of a different game, but it’s still a great opportunity to showcase what we can do and to come up against some of the biggest names in world football right now, such as Harry Kane.
“People are talking about him in a different bracket right now, breaking records as he has done. We don’t know if he’s going to play, but just to be playing against the calibre of player is exciting.”
Callum is now closing in on 100 appearances for the club and he is relishing the occasion against Spurs and hoping Dons fans do too.
“I think for most young lads growing up they want to become a professional footballer, play in the nation’s biggest stadium and against one of the best teams in the country and, personally, against a team I supported when growing up as well. It’s a really nice feeling.
“What are we on now? My third or fourth spell?! This is a club that means a lot to me, it’s a different vibe at this club – you feel like everything is a bit more tight knit. I don’t think the fans get the credit for doing what they have actually done in a space of such a short time.
“Enjoy the day! We plan to! We aim to work hard, do our best and do the fans proud. It’s a day out at Wembley which most people would kill for. Who is to say we can’t pull off the unlikely?!”
The full interview with Callum Kennedy and the pre-match thoughts of manager Neal Ardley, ahead of the third round tie at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur, are available on our iFollow Dons channel.
By Rob Cornell