Jamie Ashdown has been lauded for finally fulfilling his Pompey potential.
Former Blues goalkeeping favourite Shaka Hislop believes the club’s new-found stability has allowed Ashdown to flourish at last.
Hislop has heaped praise on his former Pompey understudy for his emergence as the club’s No1 after six years at Fratton Park.
The man who was between the sticks as the club gloriously romped to the division one crown in record-breaking fashion in 2003, knows Ashdown has had to endure plenty of difficult periods as Pompey’s longest-serving player.
And he remembers the times when Ashdown was thrown into action in tough circumstances.
The keeper could count himself unfortunate to ship four goals against West Ham last week.
But his record-breaking run of post-war league minutes without conceding last season spoke of the consistency he has shown.
And Hislop, who Ashdown grew up idolising as a young Reading fan before the two became Pompey team-mates, couldn’t be happier for his former colleague.
Hislop said: ‘I like Jamie a lot.
‘It’s taken him a long time to settle. There were reasons for that, though.
‘He arrived at Pompey at a time when he was signed for his potential, really.
‘I was there with Harald Wapenaar and then there was the confusion surrounding Kostas Chalkias.
‘Jamie was caught in the middle and ended up being thrown in at the deep end by Alain Perrin.
‘He had to learn from his mistakes. That’s never easy, especially when there are three senior keepers looking on.
‘He was under pressure. In fact, he has been at the club through a lot of difficult times.
‘But now the club appears to have regained some stability.
‘Maybe that’s what Jamie needs. There has been problems for him, problems not of his own making.
‘But he has put them behind him and been able to settle down and concentrate on his football.
‘He doesn’t have to worry about his own future too much, or that of the club.
‘And that has allowed him to come out and show exactly what he can do.’
Hislop believes it is Ashdown’s all-round game that has allowed him to shine, rather than a desire to catch the eye with the spectacular.
The ex-Trinidad international feels Ashdown showed himself to be a well-schooled talent when he worked with him – and that has held him in good stead after becoming Steve Cotterill’s first choice.
Hislop said: ‘Jamie is a solid keeper – and that’s exactly what he showed last season.
‘He is good in all areas and showed that when I worked with him.
‘More and more people are realising nowadays that being a top keeper isn’t about the spectacular saves.
‘It’s about being solid. Look at Edwin van der Sar. Other goalkeepers make more spectacular saves, but no other keeper made fewer mistakes than him.
‘He didn’t give the opposition a sniff. That’s what being a quality keeper is all about.’
n Shaka Hislop is part of the team of football analysts on ESPNsoccernet Press Pass, which takes a look at football with a smart global perspective every weeknight and Sunday at 11.30pm, beginning September 19 on ESPN. For details visit: espn.co.uk/tv