The News caught up with Gosport lad John Swift ahead of the Championship play-off final at Wembley.
Swift spoke on a host of subjects in a far-reaching interview. Here he talks about his hometown club Pompey, being from Gosport and a linking up with Jaap Stam at Reading.
Swift on.... Pompey’s rise
They’ve done amazingly well to have the season they’ve had.
I’ve watched them a few times and they have some great players. Being such a big team it’s amazing seeing how there’s so many fans at games. There’s so many people in Fratton Park.
There’s been some bad luck over the past few years but it’s good to see them getting back up there again now.
There’s obviously a push to get up the leagues and if they can keep most of their players I can see them doing that. I can see Pompey pushing on.
You can never tell what will happen with a new owner coming in, too. For the fans, though, I just hope the new owner comes in and does the right thing for the club.
I signed when I was 10 and was released at 11 when Paul Hart was in charge of the Academy. I got released and ended up playing Sunday league until I was 13 or 14.
Then I ended up having a three-day trial at Chelsea. Pompey came back in for me then so I got to choose.
Swift on...Gosport boys
I’d never heard much about Matt Ritchie because he was a bit older than me.
He signed for Newcastle and has got back to the Prem now. He’s a great player as well, I’ve played against him a few times now. Great player.
Then there’s Jack Whatmough who’s doing well, too. We’re not doing too bad the Gosport boys!
I lived in Forton growing up. My mum lives near the Morrisons now and my sister’s there. My dad’s still around this way, too.
I’ve still got loads of mates in Gosport, too. It’s all nice and close as well - Reading’s not too far, so I’m about quite a bit still.
All the Gosport boys will be going up to support me on Monday. As soon as we’d won the game, before I’d even unlocked my phone, I had messages asking for tickets! It’s good to see them and have that backing.
I still have my friends at home - and they will always be my mates. I can go three or four months without seeing my Gosport mates, but when I do it’s exactly the same as it ever was before.
Swift on...Royals on a roll
The manager has changed the team and the way we play.
It’s been up and down at times but we’ve ended up third best in the league.
I feel I’ve picked the right team to play for, the right manager and the right style of player.
After last season I don’t think anyone thought we’d be in the position we are.
All of the players are looking forward to the game now. It’s such a hard game to call against Huddersfield.
We weren’t expected to get through the two games against Fulham.
We’ve both had really good seasons and aren’t expected to be where we are.
We’ve got a game plan to execute and we want to win the game.
If we do what we’ve been doing on a training pitch and what we’ve done tactically all season, we can go out there and do it
It’s going to be a tough game to call - but a good one to watch. I just want to come off the pitch with a win at the end of it.