At 28 he was the youngest manager in English full-time football.
But Mikey Harris refuses to consider his decision to throw it all in to coach Pompey’s young talents as a step down.
Under his guidance, last season he took Salisbury to an impressive 12th in the Skrill Premier – enhancing a blossoming reputation.
This summer, though, an ownership crisis has seen the Raymond McEnhill Stadium club demoted from the Football Conference and on the brink of heading out of existence.
Harris also departed – favouring a move back into youth football to become the Blues under-18s boss.
The chance to return to the club where he spent eight years as an apprentice was too tempting to ignore.
A lifelong Pompey fan from Stokes Bay, Harris also worked with the under-12s during the 2012-13 campaign before he was appointed Salisbury boss. It truly is a happy homecoming.
He said: ‘I don’t think it was a step down. No disrespect to Salisbury but you look at the size of the clubs, there isn’t really a comparison.
‘Pompey is a massive, massive club and very close to my heart. It’s where I grew up watching the team play, players like Awfs and Kells and all those guys.
‘I was here as a kid in the Academy from eight to 16 as well. So to have the opportunity to come back here, work with those guys and be a part of what they are trying to do is fantastic.
‘With the way the club is moving forward and the way the fans in the city are behind the club, it was an opportunity I wasn’t going to turn down.
‘I am 29 now and am by no means the finished article as a manager but to get that experience and have a successful season was brilliant.
‘I want to learn more and become a better coach, a better manager.
‘Of course, one day I would like to get back into first-team management but for now to work with elite, young players at a fantastic football club full of great staff is a great, great opportunity.
‘I just don’t see it as a step down. I see it as a really good opportunity to progress myself and to help Pompey progress, too.
‘I still have hopefully a good 30 years in the game left, so plenty of time to do other things.’
After retiring from playing at the age of 23 to become Tommy Widdrington’s assistant at Salisbury, he also served under Darrell Clarke.
Then in the summer of 2013 he was made manager himself.
He added: ‘I got the managers’ job at 28 and there were a few raised eyebrows over whether I would do a good job there.
‘The board’s message to me was “make sure you finish fourth from bottom, just to stay up”. We only got promoted the season before so it was just about consolidation.
‘In the end we flirted with the play-offs for a long time throughout the season.
‘There were 14 clubs who had been in the Football League during the previous 10 years. You are competing against the likes of Luton, Cambridge, Grimsby, Macclesfield, the list goes on and on.
‘Little Salisbury beat Wrexham, Grimsby – Barnet came with Edgar Davids and we beat them. It’s the stuff of dreams really.’