How Linvoy hunt brought best out of Pompey man

Amine Linganzi finally knows Linvoy Primus.

Saturday, 4th March 2017, 9:30 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:08 am
Amine Linganzi celebrates his goal against Carlisle with Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler

It began with an inquisitive mind, a desire to locate the figure portrayed so affectionately within Christian circles.

An internet search paid dividends, with Google obligingly tracking down the man who spent eight-and-a-half years at Fratton Park.

And how Pompey’s rangy midfielder is basking in life on the south coast having at last made Primus’ acquaintance.

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Linvoy Primus

‘It’s a funny story,’ said Linganzi.

‘I spent five years in England before going back to France and last summer was with a friend who is a Christian.

‘He asked whether I had heard of Linvoy Primus? I hadn’t.

‘Not long after, I called Leam (Richardson), who I was keeping in contact with, and he asked me to come to Portsmouth on trial.

Linvoy Primus

‘While over here, I was looking for a Christian church to attend and went to two or three. Again, people were asking “Have you heard of Linvoy Primus?”

‘So I went on to Google, checked the Faith and Football website and sent an email. An hour later someone answered.

‘Within two days I met Mick Mellows and then step-by-step we all became friends.

‘I didn’t know Linvoy, all the players I was aware of were more in France, not in England, this is why I hadn’t heard of him.

‘Having met him, I have discovered he has been player of the year at Portsmouth and I am not surprised.

‘God is good and does good things.

‘Together with Mick Mellows, they have helped me a lot at a time when it wasn’t easy.

‘When I arrived here I had no car and lived in a hotel for a few months, then stayed in a club house for a few months, yet it was difficult.

‘I am married, I am a husband, I am a father, and couldn’t spend time with my wife and son, who were back in France.

‘Then you learn to be patient – and that is my strength now.’

Now reunited with his family and living in Waterlooville, Linganzi has fully adjusted to life on the south coast.

It began with a trial, followed by a spot as an unused substitute in the pre-season fixture at Steve Claridge’s Salisbury in July.

He remained in the Blues’ squad for the final three summer friendlies, before earning a month-by-month deal on the eve of the campaign.

These days, Linganzi is established as a regular during Pompey’s encouraging current momentum towards the automatic promotion spots.

The 27-year-old is enjoying his longest period yet in the Blues’ first-team in League Two, lining up in the past six matches.

A groin injury collected in the midweek draw with Morecambe threatens to bundle him out of Paul Cook’s side for today’s visit of Crewe.

Nonetheless, Linganzi’s powerful midfield presence has impressed the Fratton faithful and seen him taken into their hearts.

The acceptance is reciprocated during a period in which the product of Saint-Etienne’s youth system believes he has finally discovered peace.

Signed by Sam Allardyce in January 2010 for then Premier League side Blackburn, there were high hopes for Linganzi.

A debut at Aston Villa in front of 41,799 supporters, only to be substituted at half-time, represented one of three top-flight appearances.

Spells at Preston, Accrington and Gillingham then followed, before leaving the English game in March 2015 when his Gills contract was cancelled by mutual consent.

Then arrived the moment which Linganzi credits with changing his life.

He added: ‘I left Gillingham, went to France and my faith was born again.

‘When you are born again you get a test and I did my test in France. I had my big car and was in the third division with Frejus Saint-Raphael.

‘Everybody knew I had played in England, played a few games in the Premier League, and became a bit jealous.

‘So it was tough, but I stayed strong. I am walking with Jesus, I have no fear.

‘I had been struggling for about a good seven or eight years in football, since the beginning of my career. I was struggling with everything.

‘Now I’m here and that is my past – I am looking to my future.’

Signed up to Fratton Park until the season’s end, he is among many whose presence remains uncertain beyond this summer.

Pompey’s continued involvement in the promotion push ensures all contract discussions are currently on hold.

In the meantime, Linganzi’s reputation continues to be enhanced, serving alongside Michael Doyle as the team’s holding midfielders.

Softly-spoken and cutting a relaxed figure, he is comfortable speaking English, irrespective of a background which saw him born in Algeria, raised in France and represent DR Congo internationally.

Linganzi’s faith has been the crucial driving force behind his re-emergence in the English game.

And he is keen to use his life experiences to benefit others.

He added: ‘Most footballers have many issues, especially those earning lots of money. They have issues with gambling, drugs and alcohol.

‘I know this football world and I am a Christian.

‘If younger players like Conor Chaplin or Nicke Kabamba, for example, wanted to talk then I will do everything for them.

‘When you are shining it’s good, when you come down then no-one is here for you and you can become weak mentally.

‘But you must walk with humility, accept there is something bigger than you, accept there is a creator. Then you just relax yourself and things will come to you.’