If you were to ask a Luton fan to make an all-time best XI, Brian Stein would be the starting striker no matter the case.
The Cape Town-born striker is one of the greatest players to ever represent the Hatters, making 427 appearances and scoring 130 goals in two different spells for Luton and scoring the winning goal in the club’s only League Cup final appearance against Arsenal in 1988.
Stein is one of the most prolific players to ever play under the lights of Kenilworth Road, but it wasn’t meant to plan out like this. Signed from non-league side Edgware Town, the then 20-year-old prospect was originally brought in as a winger, but after impressing as a striker and forming a good partnership with both Bob Hatton and then Steve White as Luton went on to win the 1982 Second Division title.
But ask any Luton fan who was around to watch Stein in his prime, they will tell you his best striking partner was Paul Walsh, who was signed by the Hatters the season they were promoted, and the duo and a fruitful partnership in the two years they started alongside each other.
Although Luton were almost relegated in their first season, needing to rely on a win in the final game to remain in the First Division, goals were aplenty with Stein and Walsh up top. Games in which the London side scored three, four and five goals were uncommon, and the duo were so successful that in their second season together in the top-flight, Walsh was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 1984.
His move to Liverpool the following summer broke up another successful pair, but Stein’s ability to work well with anyone who plays alongside him continued to work, as current Luton boss Mick Harford, the striker who would partner the South African in the club’s finest hour, the dramatic 3-2 win against Arsenal in the 1988 League Cup final.
Stein’s tenure in London came to an end that season as well when the striker made the move to French side SM Caen where he was unable to consistently score as much as he did at Luton.
The striker would return to Luton 1991, however, three goals in a season where the club was relegated ended another spell with the Hatters. Stein is without question a legend of the club and a player who brought the team their greatest victory to date.
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