Rommy Boco has revealed how he turned down a passage to India to link up with a manager he knows inside out.
The versatile 30-year-old was handed a surprise debut in the win at Newport County last weekend when he came on as a substitute for Kal Naismith.
And Boco got the nod to start the game in the 1-1 draw with Stevenage in midweek, playing 70 minutes before he was replaced by Conor Chaplin.
Although initially signed as cover for Ben Davies at right-back, Boco – whose deal runs until the end of the season – insisted he can play in several different positions and adds some extra depth to Paul Cook’s squad.
But he walked away from a lucrative contract on the sub-continent to return to England and join forces with Cook once again.
In January, the Benin international – he holds dual nationality with France and Benin – was unveiled as the marquee signing for Bharat FC.
The Pune-based I League club finished bottom of the standings last season, and when the campaign finished in May, Boco headed back to familiar soil and called in a favour from a manager he served at Sligo Rovers, Accrington and Chesterfield.
Boco said: ‘I was contracted to a club in India.
‘At the end of their season, I needed a bit of fitness and as I know the manager previously, I asked if I could train with him.
‘While I was here, he told me if I could be free, it would be nice to add me to the squad.
‘I can play a few positions so he wanted me as a second choice for a few positions.
‘So I went over to India and we ended my contract.
‘I told them I was homesick and wanted to come home.
‘You can’t refuse to be at a club like Portsmouth.
‘Four or five years ago, I would never have dreamed to be at a club like this.
‘It’s (Pompey) a strong team so it was a no-brainer.’
Although the league has not entirely caught the imagination of the Indian public, with cricket still attracting far greater crowds, plenty of international talent has been attracted to the competition.
Boco is certainly not the only player to head east, and there is also a former Pompey flavour with Nicky Shorey, David James and Diomansy Kamara among those to have been involved in the I League.
But Boco – who has 48 international caps to his name and has played in the African Cup of Nations on three occasions – admitted the temptation of rejoining Cook was a big factor in his decision to return.
He said: ‘I was at Chesterfield with the manager last season and I’ve played for him at a few clubs.
‘He’s a good man-manager and he is always honest with you.
‘When he signed me, he never told me I was going to play but he told me to keep doing what I do and I would get a chance at some stage.
‘He plays everybody and it’s not one team of 11 players that will play every game.’
A short spell with the Hawks helped with fitness but Boco has now forged his way into the first-team squad at Pompey and is adjusting to the different standard.
He added: ‘The manager wanted me to train with the team every day and didn’t want me to go to another League Two club on loan.
‘So I went to Havant & Waterlooville. I played four games and I enjoyed it.
‘Now I’m back with the team, it’s a different pace.
‘But the manager knows I am ready when he needs me.’