Sylvain Distin is relishing an emotional Fratton Park swansong as he contemplates a football farewell.
The 2008 FA Cup winner is back at Pompey on Saturday, albeit representing opponents Bournemouth.
Being able to come back to a place where I had such a good time and good memories is fantasticSylvain Distin
Now aged 38 and in the final six months of his contract, the FA Cup fourth-round tie offers a prized opportunity to again step out at Fratton Park.
The classy central defender made 96 appearances for the Blues before he was sold to Everton in August 2009 in a £5m deal.
Yet Distin will forever be remembered as a key member of Harry Redknapp’s side which ended Pompey’s 69-year wait to again lift the FA Cup.
And the veteran cannot wait for his reunion with the Fratton faithful who still hold him in such high regard.
He told The News: ‘At the start of your career you don’t really realise it is going to end at some point and you just play game after game.
‘So being able to come back to a place where I had such a good time and good memories is fantastic.
‘I never had the chance to say goodbye to the fans, how I left happened really, really fast.
‘I was about to sign a contract, then the following day was asked to leave because the club needed the money, so had to say goodbye to the lads quickly. Then I was off.
‘I returned to Fratton Park with Everton a month later but had only just left so didn’t feel that strange.
‘It is now more than six years since I last went back and it is going to be a very different situation.
‘I think it will be enjoyable. I had a really good time there and left with good relationships with everybody.
‘Good reception or not it is still going to be nice for me to go back there.’
Distin left Goodison Park last summer having served with distinction, making 210 appearances and scoring five times.
Yet Bournemouth offered the Frenchman the opportunity to remain in the Premier League.
He has subsequently played 13 times for Eddie Howe’s side, the most recent outing coming in their FA Cup third-round victory over Birmingham.
And he admitted thoughts are turning towards the end of his career.
He added: ‘It has been so far, so good at Bournemouth.
‘It’s a long process to adapt to the Premier League but I feel we are doing good.
‘I went there to enjoy the challenge, to try to give back as much as I can and enjoy it as much as I can.
‘You never know if it will be your last season, all I know is you are getting older, so it’s not getting easier.
‘You have to work harder, while the players are stronger and faster and it is getting a bit difficult.
‘I am really lucky to be in the Premier League at my age and lucky to still be in a position where I can decide whether to carry on or not.
‘It is all positive.’