The complete journey of Portsmouth's 'local hero' Mason Mount - from those who know him best

HARDWORKING, polite and determined to succeed – those are the qualities Mason Mount has in abundance, and what we should all aim to replicate.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 4:55 am

This evening the Purbrook-born footballer is set to walk out of the tunnel at Wembley to face Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final.

It is the second time the Three Lions have reached an international semi-final in as many tournaments, and hopes are high that Gareth Southgate’s squad can go all the way.

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Mason Mount celebrates after victory in the Euro 2020 quarter-final match against Ukraine. Picture: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Today, those who know the midfielder best have wished him well ahead of the match – and given more insight into Mount’s incredible England journey.

Growing up in Purbrook, football was in his blood, as his father Tony coached Havant Town FC.

Tony said: ‘Even now, having watched Mason play in the Champions League final and throughout this tournament, it’s still quite surreal to think that my son is an England player.

‘As a youngster, he was just so incredibly driven and wanted to be the best – always raising the bar of what he could achieve.

Mason Mount rushes to congratulate Raheem Sterling following his match-winner against Croatia. Picture: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

‘We never looked further than the next game, who we were playing next, and I never imagined Mason would make it to the very top like he has. We’re all so incredibly proud of him.’

After a short spell with Portsmouth FC, Mount was snapped up by Chelsea FC at the tender age of six.

He would travel up to London for training in the evenings, and then played for Boarhunt Rovers on Sunday mornings – which eventually merged with United Services Portsmouth FC.

Club secretary Bob Brady said: ‘I watched Mason play plenty of times while he was with us, and what has always stood out to me is not only his talent, but his commitment.

Mason Mount, front right, played for Boarhunt Rovers in 2005. Picture: Malcolm Wells (053105-107)

‘He always wanted to be on the pitch and that attitude is what’s taken him to the top.

‘Being a Pompey lad it’s great for the city, and shows the young players today that if they put the work in, they can make it too.

‘We’re all hugely proud of him and are rooting for him every time he steps onto the field.’

Mount started the first two games of England’s Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia and Scotland, before self-isolating after contact with Scottish midfielder Billy Gilmour.

England and Chelsea footballer Mason Mount, who is a lifelong Pompey fan. Mason, right, with friend Will Sumner at Old Trafford supporting Pompey in the 2008 FA Cup.

Overall, he has received 19 caps for England so far – and at the age of 22, has plenty more matches in his locker.

Despite this, Mount hasn’t forgotten his Portsmouth roots.

Tony said: ‘We both have a lot of love for Portsmouth and he still comes down to watch the mid-week games whenever he can.

‘Mason is very proud of where he came from, and grateful to everyone who has helped him on his journey, from coaches to teammates and schoolteachers who gave him the support he needed.’

Purbrook Park secondary school in Park Avenue, Widley, played an instrumental role in Mount fulfilling his footballing dream.

The school granted the England star dispensation to travel for games, as long as he caught up on his schoolwork afterwards – which he did without fail.

Headteacher Paul Foxley said: ‘Mason was very friendly and polite towards everyone, but he knew what he wanted and how to achieve it. That self-discipline is something that always stuck out with him.

‘We have posters of him throughout the school and everyone knows who he is.

‘The pupils are all very excited about the Euros and Mason is a great role model in terms of playing sports while also keeping up with his schoolwork.

‘Everyone at Purbrook Park is very proud of him and we’ll all be cheering England on against Denmark. He’s a real local hero.’

Mr Foxley added that the same dispensation measures are still in place at the school today, so that other pupils can make their dreams a reality.

Tony said: ‘That school was so supportive of him throughout his time there. It’s an incredible place and we can’t thank Mr Foxley enough for everything he did for Mason.’

Following loan spells with Vitesse and Derby County, Mount became a regular in Chelsea’s first team in the 2019/20 season, scoring eight goals in 53 appearances under manager Frank Lampard.

In the 2020/21 season he was Chelsea’s most capped player with 54 appearances, and laid on the pass for teammate Kai Havertz to score in the Champions League final against Manchester City.

But it’s not just the pupils at Purbrook Park that the midfielder has inspired.

Youngsters across Portsmouth all know who Mason Mount is, and the entire city will be rooting for him in tonight’s semi-final.

Clare Martin, CEO of Pompey in The Community, the charity arm of Portsmouth FC, said: ‘Watching Mason Mount on the TV is so aspirational for Portsmouth’s young people.

‘Seeing a lad from up the road playing at Wembley shows them how that could be them some day.

‘He’s grounded and completely dedicated to what he does – a proper role model for these young guys.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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