This Christmas sees Played Up Pompey Too hit the shelves.
Written by The News’ chief sports writer, Neil Allen, the book contains fresh interviews with 23 of the Fratton faithful’s favourite players.
Continuing a series of extracts is DAVID NORRIS, who made 42 appearances and scored eight goals for the club.
The chance encounter occurred at Manchester Airport as my family and I prepared to fly out for a holiday to Portugal.
‘I was just about to be a massive hero and you killed me,’ Billy Sharp joked upon bumping into me.
‘I’d scored two goals, was substituted with a minute to go to a standing ovation – and you did that!’ he continued.
The former Southampton striker was right – and that match provided the best moment of my football career.
Every so often, I visit YouTube and watch footage of the April 2012 south-coast derby.
There’s one clip where somebody has filmed behind the goal with the back of a man’s head right in front of him, yet there’s enough space to view my strike and the ball hitting the back of the net.
The camera then panned around to capture the joyous fans in the St Mary’s away end going absolutely crazy. The memory gives me goosebumps even now.
Earlier in that second half, I remember it being 1-1 and thinking ‘Please let me score in this game’ – then Billy Sharp grabbed his second and the feeling was that was it, game over.
He netted from close range in the 89th minute – with the referee, Neil Swarbrick, overruling the linesman, who had flagged for offside.
Suddenly you’re hoping one of us can pull something out of nothing. Luckily, for me, that opportunity came my way.
It was deep into stoppage-time when Ricardo Rocha pumped a long pass into the box and Karim Rekik managed to win a header to send the ball looping in the air in my direction.
It was spinning, I could see it, and my first thought was to just help it left-footed back into the box, create carnage and see what problems it could cause – then I had a change of mind.
As it dropped I decided to hit it and, if you closely watch the footage, you will see me mouth ‘Bang’ at the precise moment the ball was struck, like you would do in training.
Upon connection, I knew it was in. In fact, I was half-running to celebrate before the ball struck the back of the net. It was the best single feeling of my football career.
There are probably 25 occasions when football has generated unbelievable emotion inside of me, but that one is definitely top.
I totally lost my head, running, shouting, heading for the fans, I could see them falling down and going nuts, while the stewards blocked off the celebrating players.
I managed to run straight through two stewards and into the supporters, yet somehow never got booked, instead Kelvin Etuhu did, and he had been substituted earlier! I think there was too much going on for the officials to keep track of.
What a wonderful moment, especially in a derby.
n Played Up Pompey Too is priced at £17.99 and available from Waterstones in Portsmouth, Fareham and Petersfield and local newsagents. It can also be ordered from Amazon.