Homegrown hero reveals Pompey pain

Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie
Pompey suffered defeat to Charlton. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Matt Ritchie spoke of the pain surrounding his Pompey exit and admitted: Sometimes I wish I’d stayed.

The former Blues midfielder has lifted the lid on his departure from Fratton Park for Swindon after a life spent at his hometown club.

The Gosport talent confessed to some sadness at the manner in which it failed to work out for him at Pompey.

Ritchie was sold for £200,000 after Steve Cotterill decided he would not make an impact in his team.

The 21-year-old revealed it has taken time for the reality of his exit from the club he has such a strong emotional tie with to sink in.

Ritchie said: ‘I still love my club. Sometimes I wish I was still there.

‘I still feel I have a connection with Pompey and I thank everyone for all they did for me. It’s always the first result I look for now I’ve left.

‘Obviously, I’m pleased we stayed up. I still say “we” without realising.

‘I sometimes forget I’m not at the club anymore. It’s a little bit sad and sometimes I still think of the ifs and buts.

‘But everything happens for a reason, so hopefully I can work hard, dig in and things will turn out good.

‘I think I did get a chance, and if I’d done a bit better in some aspects of my game it could have been different.

‘In the end, I had to go out and get football week-in, week-out.

‘So it worked out that I went to Swindon Town and stayed there.

‘But I appreciate everything the club has done for me. At the time it didn’t sink in how big the decision was.

‘Later down the line I realised I’m not a Portsmouth player anymore and it hit home.

‘Probably two or three months down the road I was thinking whether it was right.

‘I suppose that’s football. I’ve moved on so I have to work hard where I am now and, hopefully, Swindon can push on.’

Ritchie has gone on to have a big impact at Swindon after making the permanent switch to the County Ground in January on a two-and-a-half year deal.

He scored eight times in 41 appearances for the Robins and picked up player-of-the-year plaudits in a side who were eventually relegated from League One.

Ritchie is hoping to build his name with the club next season and confessed he harboured hopes of one day returning to Pompey.

He said: ‘We haven’t had the best of seasons at Swindon but hopefully we can turn that around.

‘We need to get promotion and then push on from there.

‘I have a little stability and you don’t always get that in football.

‘So that is nice. Hopefully, we can push on and maybe one day I’ll be playing against Portsmouth.

‘To come back and play for Portsmouth again in the future would be a dream come true.

‘I’ll have to work hard and see where it gets me.’