Henderson: I had no desire to leave Pompey

Pompey goalkeeper Stephen Henderson
Pompey goalkeeper Stephen Henderson
Former Pompey striker Yakubu has retired from football. Picture: Mic Young

Former Pompey striker announces retirement

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The future of the club may be threatened but Stephen Henderson is not about to jump ship and give up on his shot at first-team Championship football.

The Irish goalkeeper only joined Pompey in the summer after getting his taste of being a club number one while on loan at Yeovil last season.

But his stay at Fratton Park could have been a matter of months had the interest from Ipswich Town before the transfer deadline passed materialised into a move.

There was also talk of a switch to Newcastle for the talented keeper, who is growing into a real crowd favourite on the south coast.

Quite why the move didn’t happen – alongside those of Joel Ward and Jason Pearce – has yet to be fully explained by anyone at the club.

But it is clear Henderson didn’t want to leave.

He feels settled at Pompey and – like the rest of the club and the supporters – he is waiting patiently for some positive news on the future.

It’s a gamble but it seems to be one he is happy to take.

He said: ‘I felt, for my development, I was better staying at Portsmouth.

‘I’ve been waiting in the shadows too long.

‘But I’ve been given the opportunity to actually play here and I didn’t want to jeopardise that.

‘I’m not saying I would have but I definitely wanted to stay and felt I owed the fans something.

‘I’m pretty happy with how things have gone but I think I’ve got a lot more to show going forward.

‘Of course, the financial side of it needs to be sorted and we’re aware of that.

‘But we just have to get on with it and do the fans and the club proud.

‘The spirit is great. There is a lot of nonsense going on outside the club but the manager is brilliant and the lads are responding to him. We like playing for him.

‘The manager has told us that we should remember those times when we played for the love of the game. That’s the way we are thinking.

‘It’s not hard for me personally to do that but I can’t speak for the other people.’

The 23-year-old was the pick of Pompey’s players in the 1-0 defeat at Birmingham on Tuesday night.

He put on an exemplary display of handling as he collected a succession of crosses and also made a couple of decent saves. He was given no chance of stopping Nathan Redmond’s fiercely-struck winner just four minutes from time, though, and admits Pompey could have no complaints with the result.

‘We didn’t test their keeper once in that second half,’ he said.

‘If you don’t test the goalkeeper, you’re never going to win a game of football. I was much the busier of the two keepers.’

But despite a run of fixtures against sides pushing for promotion and a trip to high-flying Blackpool tomorrow, the Blues have an opportunity to bounce back quickly.

Henderson said: ‘You’ve got to love it. I enjoy going to play against the top teams, we’re on the TV so bring it on.

We smashed Peterborough recently and played really well, so we’re not doing that badly considering all the other stuff that’s going on.

‘Anyone can beat anyone in this league. Blackpool are a very good side but we will go there looking to prove a point.’