Jason Pearce was not so much the one who got away, more like the one who was given away.
Now the man who signed the defender for Pompey first-time around believes bringing him back to Fratton Park will prove to be an inspired move.
Dave Hurst was youth development officer when Pearce was brought to the Blues in 2000.
The Fleet youngster had come to Pompey’s attention while playing six-a-side in Aldershot.
A natural central defender, he went on to be given professional terms in the summer of 2006 – the only one from his age group to do so.
However, following loan spells at Bognor and Woking, a year later Pearce left for Bournemouth following a successful trial.
To date, he has made 183 appearances for the Cherries, establishing himself as a regular and the club captain. His impressive development has seen Pompey attempt to reunite him with Fratton Park, with two bids so far.
Negotiations are on-going for the Eastleigh-based 23-year-old, while Peterborough, Barnsley and Reading also keen.
And Hurst believes a return to where Pearce’s career began would be a great move.
He said: ‘Jason came through the schoolboy teams at Pompey and then we gave him an apprenticeship in 2004.
‘The lad was a big, strong, honest centre-half then and hasn’t changed.
‘He is as honest as the day is long. You knew when he went out there he would give you 100 per cent.
‘He always reminded me of Kevin Ball to a certain degree because he was that type of player.
‘Kevin also started out here and was not a particularly gifted footballer, he would admit that himself.
‘But he was a winner with his attitude – and Jason is just like that. The lad is an out-and-out centre-half.
‘He can head it, tackle, is brave and never shirked a challenge.
‘Sometimes watching him as a young lad you worried at times because of honesty. You feared he might get hurt.
‘But in football if you give it everything, you normally don’t get hurt anyway.
‘I haven’t watched Jason play in the past two or three years but I’ve seen him on TV and he looks the same to me.
‘He is terrific. You would go to war with him. I would like to see him back at Fratton Park.’
It was Harry Redknapp who decided Pearce had no Pompey future in 2007. He let the youngster trial at Bournemouth, where former Blues coach Kevin Bond was manager at the time.
Pearce has been there ever since but Hurst revealed how he very nearly didn’t even get his first professional contract at Fratton Park in 2006.
He added: ‘In the summer of 2006 we had Brett Angell as youth and reserve team coach.
‘He wanted to put Jason on non-contract terms, which I disagreed with. I didn’t want to lose the lad.
‘So I went up to Fleet to meet his parents and told them to be patient, things were happening at the club and he would get his contract. A few weeks later Brett left and Jason got his deal.
‘He was the only one from that year. Seven were signed and only one got pro forms. That’s the way it is.
‘The year before was Marc Wilson’s year. The year after nobody came through at all.
‘It is great to see Jason has made himself into a good player by hard work and dedication.
‘I’d love to see him back.’