Crazy goals and highly thought of - the expert view on Portsmouth arrival and ex-Sheffield United defender Kieron Freeman

Pompey completed their sixth signing of the summer – and it’s a face familiar to supporters.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 3:00 pm

Kieron Freeman has returned to the Blues, having arrived on a free transfer from Swansea.

The right-back had a brief loan spell at Fratton Park in the 2015-16 season, making seven appearances for Paul Cook.

However, sections of the Fratton faithful remember Freeman’s time at PO4 for his red card on the final day of the campaign against Northampton.

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It meant he was ruled out of the League Two play-offs, with Pompey losing their semi-final to Plymouth in heartbreaking style when badly short of numbers.

Freeman insists he’s a different player since then, though.

In the five years that have passed, he helped Sheffield United earn promotion from League One to the Premier League, as well as making his international debut for Wales.

We spoke to Danny Hall, Blades writer at the Sheffield Star, to get the lowdown on Freeman’s time at Bramall Lane.

New Pompey signing Kieron Freeman celebrates scoring during his time at Sheffield United. Picture: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
New Pompey signing Kieron Freeman celebrates scoring during his time at Sheffield United. Picture: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

What sort of right-back can Pompey fans expect?

During his time at United, Freeman was both attacking and defensive.

When he first came in, he was a defender first and foremost. He always had the ability to get forward but the system didn't allow him to do that, so he played very much in a defensive four and was a conventional right-back.

Freeman was always solid enough rather than spectacular. When Chris Wilder came in, it changed when there was a switch to a back three.

Freeman played in a right wing-back role and scored 11 goals when United won League One in 2016-17. He was ridiculous and popped up in the craziest positions.

He had the freedom to go wherever he wanted and scored some goals at really important times.

That season, Freeman was a fans' favourite. That was interesting because when Wilder took charge, he put Freeman on the transfer list because he was up there with the highest earners.

Freeman and Paul Coutts were transfer-listed but were not bombed out, which you see a lot from clubs.

No-one came in for either and ended up being regulars to become fans' favourites.

Freeman was named in the Team of the Season when Sheffield United won League One. Was that fully deserved?

One-hundred per cent. With United over the past couple of seasons, if a striker scores 10 goals in a campaign then you'd think he's had a decent season.

To do it from right-back is remarkable.

After getting promoted to the Championship, Freeman was unlucky after George Baldock came in and didn't really miss a game.

But some of the goals he scored in League One were brilliant and he was part of a right defence that didn't concede many goals.

Would it be fair to say that Freeman was a victim of Sheffield United's success in recent years?

It would be. Baldock came in for a bit of cover and competition but got a chance and never gave it up.

Freeman didn't get bombed when United were going up the leagues – the club just overtook him a little bit.

When he did come in when needed, he never let anyone down. I think the reaction from United fans on social media when he signed for Pompey shows how well thought of he was.

From being free to leave to have the mental strength and ability to turn that around, it is a testament to him.

When Sheffield United were promoted to the Premier League in 2018-19, Freeman made 22 appearances. How did he fare in the Championship?

He did fine. He knew that role really well and carried on where he left off in League One.

It was a bit difficult because Baldock was first-choice right-back. Freeman would have come into the team because of injuries and suspensions so it might have been difficult playing a couple of games then going out of the team.

Towards the start of that season at Bolton, he scored a similar goal to what we saw in League One - a free-flowing move and a good finish.

For a right-back, his finishing was ridiculous. He scored a lot of goals and didn't seem to miss many chances either.

He got into a lot of attacking positions and made his Wales debut that season.

In the Premier League, he played a bit-part role. Most of his games were in cup competitions, with only two appearances in the top flight.

But fans remember him very fondly and all wish him well.

Were you surprised he stayed around in the Premier League as a squad player?

Not particularly. No-one knew how United would fare in the Premier League and Baldock might have struggled or got injured.

Freeman was always second-choice right-back, so it's not like he was well down the pecking order. Baldock played every minute of the 2019-20 season, so your chances are going to be limited.

When he left, it was to play regularly again rather than sitting on the bench or in the stands every week.

Did you expect Freeman to get a club quicker than he did after leaving Sheffield United? It wasn't until five months later he joined Swindon.

I did. I don't know the reasons behind it but everyone at United thought he'd get snapped up straight away.

Whether he was waiting for the right club, I don't know the ins and outs but he didn't hang about long at Swindon did he before going to Swansea!

That was a bizarre move and he was on the bench for the Championship play-off final. Had they gone up, it would have been even more of an unbelievable story.

Freeman hasn't played a lot of football for a few years now. Can he still recapture his best form at Pompey he showed at Sheffield United?

I think so. Like any player, it might take a bit of time to get some minutes back in his legs but he was always a fit lad and never had many injuries.

He's only 29 so got plenty of time left and will want to prove a point after bouncing around a bit after leaving United.

Freeman will want to put roots down and after having six months of kicking your heels, you're going to jump at a chance to play for a club like Pompey.

Looking from afar, Pompey fans aren't too dissimilar to United's. They appreciate the same kind of qualities - a hard-working, down-to-earth character.

Freeman is one of those and there's no reason why he can't be a success.