Jack Whatmough thanked the doubters who inspired his latest successful fitness battle and insisted: Never write me off.
The central defender returned to match action for Pompey’s reserves on Tuesday night – a month ahead of schedule.
Nothing is going to stop me from wanting to get back and pushing myself as a footballer. NothingJack Whatmough
Back in September 2017, the Gosport talent underwent a cartilage operation on his left knee.
It was the same knee which previously suffered ligament damage in March 2015 – with another problem later sidelining him for a short period at the start of last season.
Nonetheless, Whatmough has once again demonstrated he is no quitter, driving hard in his rehabilitation to defy the doctors.
At one stage, it appeared he would be absent for the remainder of the current campaign.
Now he’s closing in on first-team involvement.
And the 21-year-old revealed how a lack of belief from others provided him with the steely motivation to prove people wrong.
Whatmough said: ‘Nothing is going to stop me from wanting to get back and pushing myself as a footballer. Nothing.
‘Obviously I see everything on Twitter and people saying “He is out for the season, he’s not going to play this year” and I sat there thinking “That will give me motivation to make sure I am back”.
‘While I’m in the gym, it gives me motivation to prove them wrong.
‘I am a month ahead of schedule. That just shows the determination and drive I possess to get back playing for this club.
‘Following the operation, I sat down with the gaffer and he told me to look at things after football, just in case.
‘A lot of people have done the same knee a couple of times and probably would have packed it in.
‘It wasn’t a negative comment or anything, it was a bit of advice, which I appreciated. I listened to it, said “Okay”, but it gave me motivation to prove everyone wrong.
‘I see people saying “That’s his third one on that knee”, but it’s the second time I’ve had surgery – and a totally different injury,
‘The first injury on my knee was a big one, then the second one at Crewe wasn’t any damage but a case of aggravating scar tissue, which I hadn’t done before.
‘That got wrongly diagnosed from a scan, which was no-one’s fault, so I wouldn’t class that as an injury, just uncomfortable after a previous injury.
‘A lot of people have probably written me off. I have seen them saying “He has potential, but is always injured” and it gives me more motivation to get back – so thanks everyone for saying that!’
Members of Pompey’s first team, including Matt Clarke, were present at Nyewood Lane on Tuesday night to see Whatmough’s 45-minute run out.
The match with Leicester City’s under-23s finished 1-1 – and Jack was back.
He added: ‘One of the things that has got me through is how together the squad is. I cannot thank my team-mates enough.
‘I spoke to Luke McGee on the way down, Mark Catlin gave me a call on the morning, as did our former physio Sean Duggan. That’s the sort of squad – and club – we’ve got at Pompey.’