Pack: My debt of gratitude to Cotterill

Marlon Pack in pre-season action for Pompey against Bournemouth last summer
Marlon Pack in pre-season action for Pompey against Bournemouth last summer
Pompey celebrate Conor Chaplin's goal against Bournemouth. Picture: Shaun Boggust

Jackett: Pompey team is not set in stone

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He was the man who shattered his Pompey dream.

But Marlon Pack has no doubt he owes Steve Cotterill a huge debt of gratitude – despite the Blues boss showing him the door at Fratton Park.

Pack brought a 12-year association with the club he has always supported to a close this week, after he signed a two-year deal with League Two Cheltenham.

The 20-year-old admitted his pain at having to leave the club he watched from the stands as a youngster.

Pack sought out his manager earlier this season to see if there was a future for him at Pompey.

The midfielder from Buckland had progressed to the fringes of the first team – being included in the pre-season tour of north America – but was forced to settle for just two appearances off the bench this campaign.

And the news wasn’t good for him, as Cotterill made it clear he wasn’t part of his long-term plans.

However, the Pompey boss paved the way for him to move to Cheltenham – a club he has a strong association with after his success there earlier in his managerial career.

Pack moved to Whaddon Road on loan and has gone on to become a popular figure there, making 41 appearances this season.

He ended the campaign with two player-of-the-month trophies under his belt and was handed the captain’s armband in their final game of the campaign, despite being just a few weeks out of his teens.

Pack admitted it has been a bitter-sweet time for him, as his association with the club he supports came to an end this week.

But he is thankful to Cotterill for helping him move to a side where he now looks set to become a big figure next season.

Pack said: ‘It’s not easy leaving Pompey.

‘It’s disappointing not being at Portsmouth but I have to look forward.

‘To be honest, it was tough enough leaving on loan earlier in the season.

‘It was tough because of how close I was to the first team but I wanted to know where I stood and the manager was brilliant.

‘He told me what I knew was likely, and said I wouldn’t get my chance at Pompey.

‘That’s all I wanted to know.

‘I wanted to know if I was going to play and the reality was that wasn’t going to happen at Portsmouth.

‘I had to go elsewhere but it was the manager’s contacts that got me to Cheltenham.

‘So I’m grateful to him for pushing me to go there because it’s panned out well for me.

‘A few of the young lads who have been released might not have been as fortunate as me.

‘I’ve played in the youth team with them.

‘I love football and I have to be playing at my age.

‘But I’ve been lucky to sign for Cheltenham, so hopefully I can play well there and you never know what could happen.’

Pack admitted he had revelled in being a key player with Cheltenham this season.

He is happy he has managed to play regular league football with the Robins after previous loan stints with Wycombe and Dagenham.

Now he’s looking at continuing his progress there and catching the eye for his new club.

‘I’m still young and have made a lot of appearances,’ said Pack.

‘I got the player of the month a couple of times and in the last game of the season I was handed the captaincy.

‘Being 20 and being a loan player, I thought that was a great achievement.

‘That’s something I’d like to be considered for in the future to develop my maturity.

‘Hopefully, I can become a leader in the side.

‘The fans have been great, too, and it made me feel appreciated.

‘It was one of the reasons I wanted to sign for them.

‘To be fair, Cheltenham have been great to me so, hopefully, I can crack on appearance-wise and have a successful season there.

‘Overall, I’ve played around 60 league games. That’s pretty good going for someone who is 20.

‘These next two years are a development for me.

‘Hopefully, I can play as many games as I can and get past that 100 mark. Who knows where I can go from there?’