Welcome to Fleetwood.
How those words still make me cringe.
It was a cold Tuesday night at the famous Highbury, home of the mighty Cod Army.
We were 10 minutes into a League One encounter with MK Dons who were on the verge of promotion, and I’d just clattered into some young mixed-race fella and given away a free kick.
This young lad got up and smirked at my pathetic comment as if to say: “who are you?”.
Fleetwood wasn’t the most glamorous of places to visit as I’m sure a lot of you know, so we used to thrive on teams not wanting to come and play there and a large part of the success the club has had down the years has been down to that very reason.
Well, it turns out this boy was actually half decent, and he proceeded to run rings around us for the other 80 minutes and scored a sublime side-volley from 25 yards out in the process.
We lost 3-0 and I got hooked off on 60 minutes.
The lad’s name? Dele Alli.
That isn’t the only reason he’s getting my vote for PFA Player of the Year.
I knew that night he was going to go on to better things but he’s exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of how far he’s gone and is still going.
He’s having another astonishing season and fully deserves all the praise he gets.
I’m sure he’ll welcome me to White Hart Lane in much the same way as I welcomed him to Fleetwood, when Pompey get to the Premier League in three years time.
When the PFA representative comes in to see us the training ground and hands out the vote forms for divisional team of the year, it is then that we have the opportunity to give our opinion on who the best player in England is.
If it wasn’t for Alli I would go with Antonio Valencia.
He too is part of the ‘was a winger now a full-back’ Union, so I feel like I can relate to him in that way.
Plus he’s a red and has been exceptional for us.
It is always interesting, though, to see who the other lads vote for.
The Scousers always choose a Liverpool player like Firmino or some other underserving waste of space.
No doubt Chaplin will go with Matthew Clarke or someone though… Pompey through and through that boy!