Knight: Superb by Burgess – but that used to be Pompey norm

Pompey defender Christian Burgess, back row centre, attended Skilful Soccer Youth under-12s training session on Saturday after the Blues game at Crawley was called off because of a frozen pitch

It seems these days too many negative things are highlighted, so it’s tremendous to see the praise Christian Burgess has received.

What a lovely touch from him to answer a Tweet and help coach Skilful Soccer Youth under-12s following the cancellation of Pompey’s match on Saturday.

People are often quick to jump on the back of a footballer, so what a fantastic gesture from the Blues’ central defender.

Mind you, he will probably be a little surprised at the excellent reaction from supporters. It has surprised me!

Back in the day, as players we were often involved in local teams and their training sessions, it certainly wasn’t unusual.

Nowadays, Christian’s actions are seen as the exception and not the norm, which I find rather sad.

And while his contribution has been recognised, other great community work carried out by Pompey’s players and management has gone under the radar.

During my playing era, we regularly turned up to events not organised by the football club.

You would drink with supporters at the Cowplain Social Club or the Jimmy Dickinson bar at Fratton Park and be asked to attend a presentation or watch a kids team – so we did.

The 2002-03 Division One title winners did plenty in the community, not so much Paul Merson, but the likes of Linvoy Primus, Arjan De Zeeuw, Shaka Hislop and Hayden Foxe.

However, once Pompey reached the Premier League that distance between supporters and players steadily began to appear.

The unfortunate by-product of that era was the aloofness which entered into the club, which was such a shame.

In that respect, Christian’s actions were a bit of a throwback to years gone by, which is good.

It was Peter Mellor who drilled into me the importance of giving something back to the public and an approach I have maintained.

Peter was a great showman, an extrovert, and I was his understudy for a while.

No disrespect, he didn’t teach me a massive amount as a goalkeeper, he was a different style, his little fingers were crumpled up which made it difficult to catch the ball.

But off the pitch I learnt how Pompey players should go into the community and attend functions and presentations wherever possible.

It is an approach I have continued in my role as club ambassador – and one I passionately believe in.

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