Jason Pearce delivered an emotional goodbye to Pompey fans and admitted: I didn’t want to leave.
The Blues captain yesterday completed his £500,000 move to Leeds.
Pearce inked a four-year deal with Neil Warnock’s side, bringing his second stint at Fratton Park to an end.
The 24-year-old, a £300,000 arrival from Bournemouth only last summer, made no bones about the fact it would be a wrench to leave the club he has built a close association with.
On his departure, the defender explained it was his wish to see the Blues fans who lauded him given a club with stability.
Pearce, who was a Fratton trainee before leaving for the Cherries in 2007, enjoyed a fine season with Pompey, becoming a fans’ favourite and scooping multiple player-of-the-year awards.
The defender knows his exit will bring much-needed finance to Pompey – but he still leaves with a heavy heart.
He told The News: ‘I hope the fans get what they deserve: a stable and successful club.
‘With everything that has been going on, there is nothing they could have done.
‘On a personal note, it’s been great to have the support of all those fans the whole time I’ve been there.
‘I hope that is down to my performances. It was tough to leave, but had to be done.
‘I think everyone knew I didn’t want to leave, really.
‘But with the club going down a league, I had to think about my own career and staying in the Championship.
‘It was always going to be hard to leave, but I spoke to the administrator and the gaffer and they explained the money would help the club out a lot.
‘I’ve given everything this season performance-wise and the club have made some money out of me as well.
‘It means a lot that the fans took me to their hearts.
‘I was here as a youngster and never really got my chance. But I came back and they really supported me.
‘I’m probably the same as them and a lot of fans like that. It’s great and I really appreciate their support.’
Pearce pinpointed being handed the captaincy by Michael Appleton as a highlight of his time at the club.
That was a proud and emotional moment for a player who knew the prestige of being Pompey skipper.
Pearce said: ‘It’s been a privilege and an honour to wear the captain’s armband at Portsmouth.
‘I came through the ranks wanting to play for Portsmouth, so I appreciated being given my chance as captain.
‘I see myself as a leader, but I didn’t see myself getting the armband so quickly. I was delighted and honoured.’