Adam Webster suffered a barrage of rejections by Southampton, Chelsea and even Pompey from the age of 10.
Now he has been accepted – and the promising defender is rapidly making up for lost time.
The youngster from West Wittering emerged from nowhere to make three Pompey first-team appearances last season.
So far this term he has featured 10 times for the Blues – progression which saw him recognised by England’s under-18s in the week.
Yet the late developer was one time left wondering if he would ever reach the professional game after a succession of blows early in his footballing life.
After failing to impress sufficiently at trials with Pompey, Southampton and Premier League giants Chelsea, he returned to playing local football in Chichester.
Webster also featured for the Pompey Advanced Training Centre (ATC), then coached by Paul Hardyman.
Sure enough, his talent would earn him a fourth opportunity to impress at under-12 level – and Pompey didn’t let him wriggle free on that occasion.
He said: ‘Some boys when they get released give up. After failing in three trials I suppose I could have done the same.
‘I have obviously had a few rejections – but you carry on and don’t give up. I just carried on playing and it paid off eventually.
‘I had a trial at Southampton when I was playing under-10s, didn’t get in. Then Pompey, didn’t get in. Then Chelsea, didn’t get in.
‘At Chelsea you had to impress in two games in two days, which made it harder.
‘Eddie Newton was in charge and they had a 26-man trial on the first day and only five got through, including me.
‘We then played against the Academy and they were unbelievable. I had a shocker and knew I’d been rejected.
‘It didn’t stop me playing, though. I went back to the Pompey ATC where Paul Hardyman was.
‘Then one day we played against the Pompey Centre of Excellence – as it was then – and I played well. They wanted to sign me after that and I went into their under-12s.
‘I’m not sure what changed, although I did get better. It was a year between the trials at Pompey and I developed over that time and they saw the potential in me.
‘Around the same time I played for Chi Colts on Sundays and we won pretty much everything in two years and were unbeaten.
‘I actually got a letter three months later from Chelsea asking me back for a week’s trial. By that time, though, I had already signed for Pompey.
‘I have been here six years now – and it has been fantastic.’
Webster made his England bow against Italy last week.
It represented another landmark for the 17-year-old, who made his first-team debut only last January.
And the youngster believes he is continuing to improve.
He added: ‘I was quite a late developer and the under-16s was probably my best season.
‘At under-15s I wasn’t all that, I couldn’t hack it physically and I feel I really struggled with everything.
‘Now I am 6ft 3in so hopefully will keep growing and I’m feeling stronger all the time.’