Jason Pearce has already lived out one of his boyhood dreams in his short time at Pompey but insists: It’s just the start.
The new Blues defender is a lifelong Chelsea fan and got the opportunity to play against the team he has supported since he was a boy in Pompey’s 1-0 defeat at the weekend.
Pearce collected a signed Frank Lampard shirt as a memento of the occasion and it will now hang next to a John Terry shirt he already owns.
But Blues fans will know there was no case of divided loyalties as Pearce threw himself into tackles and courageous blocks in a way that is sure to make him a popular new addition to Steve Cotterill’s ranks.
Pearce said: ‘It was amazing to be on the pitch with those guys.
‘You watch them on TV and I’ve watched those guys for years but to play against them was brilliant.
‘They seemed like top guys.
‘Frank Lampard was a really nice bloke. I asked him for his shirt. By the time I had come out, he was already on the coach so I thought he might have forgotten about it but he’d left it with someone and had signed it for me. He’s a top man for doing that.
‘I will be getting it framed and I’ve already got John Terry’s England shirt framed at home.
‘I’ve supported Chelsea since I was a lad but if you play against them, you want to beat them.
‘There was no part of me thinking “this is Chelsea, I don’t want to tackle them”.
‘I wanted to smash Didier Drogba but I didn’t get the opportunity.
‘I blocked three shots in quick succession but I didn’t get the chance for a 50-50 with him. Maybe next time.’
The former Bournemouth skipper anticipates a tough baptism as he makes the step-up from League One to the Championship this season.
But he believes he will rise to the challenge and has already shown he is the sort of character who will give his all for the cause.
Pearce said: ‘Leaving Pompey and going to Bournemouth has done me the world of good.
‘I played week in, week out and was captain, which was great.
‘I think I have self-belief now. I want to play at this level and prove myself all over again.
‘It’s exciting to have that opportunity to play in the Championship.
‘You have got to be quicker on the ball. I’m a talker anyway but I think you need to talk even more at the higher level, too.
‘The standard of the players is higher but I think it brings out the best in me.
‘Hopefully, I will improve as a player at Pompey.
‘When I was here before, I was a young lad who hadn’t proved anything.
‘But I’ve proved myself at one level and now I have to do it all over again and show that I’m good enough to be here.’