Victory - not a Pompey reunion - is Atangana’s goal

Midfielder Nigel Atangana made 38 appearances for Pompey after arriving from the Hawks in 2014 Pictures: Joe Pepler
Midfielder Nigel Atangana made 38 appearances for Pompey after arriving from the Hawks in 2014 Pictures: Joe Pepler
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It’s a case of third time lucky, not that Nigel Atangana will give his long-awaited Pompey reunion too much added significance.

A year since departing Fratton Park, the midfielder returns with Leyton Orient tomorrow.

We could be playing Accrington tomorrow, the fact it’s Portsmouth doesn’t matter, it will be the same to me

Nigel Atangana

A gentleman’s agreement during his transfer to Brisbane Road denied the Frenchman the opportunity to face his former employers in February 2016.

Then, in October, he was sidelined with a groin injury as Orient slipped to a 1-0 home defeat, courtesy of Christian Burgess’ header.

No such complications this weekend, however, with the former Hawks player set to start in midfield against Paul Cook’s side.

Orient are four points off the relegation zone and led by their third manager of the season.

And for Atangana, his focus is solely on victory rather than basking in nostalgia for a club he represented 38 times and scored once.

The 27-year-old said: ‘It has been one year, so I’m looking forward to coming back and playing against my former team-mates.

‘Obviously, it will be exciting because I’ll be playing at Fratton Park for the first time since leaving – but I will treat it like any normal match.

‘It is just a football game. I will try to play well and do the best for my team because we are struggling and need a good result.

‘That is why I am not thinking “yes, I am coming back to play at Portsmouth!”

‘I just want a win for my team because we are near the bottom of the league, we just have to win.

‘We could be playing Accrington tomorrow, the fact it’s Portsmouth doesn’t matter, it will be the same to me.

‘This week we have lost Jay Simpson, who has gone to the MLS and will be a big miss for the team, but we still have a lot of good players.

‘This league is tough, there is no chance of us leaving League Two, we just need a win – and I will do my best.’

Atangana was signed from the Hawks in June 2014 by Andy Awford in a £20,000 deal.

The midfielder never let himself down at Fratton Park, yet his first-team appearances fizzled out following Cook’s arrival.

Regardless, he has fond memories of his time on the south coast.

‘I have a lot of respect for Portsmouth, they gave me my first professional contract and I enjoyed every single moment, I learnt a lot from many good football players,’ added Atangana.

‘My relationship with the fans was good, when Portsmouth came to us a few months ago I spoke with some supporters who told me I should have stayed, but sometimes you have to move on.

‘I couldn’t play against them last season because of the agreement between Paul Cook and my club, so I watched from the stands. It was a bit strange, to be fair.

‘Then earlier this season it was my groin, I was a bit short to play so preferred not to take a risk.

‘Portsmouth are one of the best teams in the league, I don’t know why they are struggling to win at home.

‘And I’m still talking to Conor Chaplin, I love this kid!’

Check out or Pompey Stats Centre ahead of the game here.