Distin hails Pompey on emotional Fratton return

Sylvain Distin acknowledges the Pompey fans Picture: Joe Pepler
Sylvain Distin acknowledges the Pompey fans Picture: Joe Pepler
Adam May. Picture: Colin Farmery

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Sylvain Distin toasted his winning return to Fratton Park before tipping former club Pompey to ‘get back to where they belong’.

The Frenchman, who won the FA Cup with the Blues in 2008, was back on Saturday to dump Paul Cook’s side out of the competition at the fourth-round stage with current employers Bournemouth.

It felt really good to be back. I had a good reception, there was a good atmosphere and it was a good result for us as well, so everything was good!

Sylvain Distin

But only after the Premier League Cherries survived an almighty scare as they trailed League Two Pompey 1-0 at the break.

And Distin, who received a tremendous reception from an 18,901-strong crowd at his former stomping ground, was impressed by what he saw from the home side.

He said: ‘It felt really good to be back. I had a good reception, there was a good atmosphere and it was a good result for us as well, so everything was good!

‘It was strange coming back because the last time I came here was something like seven years ago, so you tend to forget things – I only remember the atmosphere.

‘But inside the dressing room and walking back in I got plenty of flashbacks of good memories.’

For 45 minutes, though, it appeared Distin could be on the receiving end of a famous upset as the Blues had the visitors rattled at the interval.

Distin said: ‘Portsmouth are a really good team.

‘They don’t play like a League Two team – they made it really difficult for us and if they carry on like that I am sure they will get back to where they belong.

‘The message at half-time to us was to change and to wake up.

‘We could expect a slow start because there were a lot of players who hadn’t played for a while.

‘But we were really professional and changed what we had to change tactically and mentally to have a better second half – then it was fine.’

Although it has been all change at Fratton Park since Distin plied his trade for the Blues, the 38-year-old was able spot a few familiar faces on what proved to be an emotional return to PO4.

Kitman Kevin McCormack and his assistant Barry Harris were two of the Pompey stalwarts remaining from a memorable spell that saw the defender skipper the side in Europe after being part of the team to topple Cardiff City at Wembley.

And Distin was happy to catch up with old friends before paying tribute to the Fratton faithful.

He added: ‘I saw Barry Harris and Kev the Kitman as well as one of the girls from the office, so there were maybe three or four faces I remembered. It was nice.

‘To get the reception I did is something I will cherish when I finish playing. It was perfect for me.’

– JEFF MARSHMAN