Ex-AC Milan and Coventry striker Mark Hateley: Dad refused to talk to me after joining Portsmouth - but it was perfect match

A prolific Fratton Park season in Division Two earned Mark Hateley England recognition and a dream AC Milan move.

Mark Hateley left Pompey for AC Milan in June 1984
Mark Hateley left Pompey for AC Milan in June 1984

But his dad, Tony, refused to talk to the striker following the decision to leave Coventry for Pompey in May 1983.

England under-21 international Hateley elected to drop out of the top flight to give his career a kick-start with Bobby Campbell’s Blues.

It turned out to be a masterstroke, scoring 25 goals in 44 matches during his only season to win international recognition and a move to Italy.

However, in a 2015 interview for Played Up Pompey, Hateley revealed how he moved to the Blues against his dad’s wishes.

‘My dad didn’t speak to me for four months after I signed for Pompey,’ Hateley told Played Up Pompey.

‘We had an enormous argument, a proper fight, because I had decided to drop out of Division One with Coventry and into Division Two.

‘The Sky Blues had wanted me to stay, Bobby Gould had just taken over from Dave Sexton, but I was adamant I wanted to leave and Bobby Campbell sold me the club.

Mark Hateley scored 25 goals in 44 matches during his only season at Fratton Park

‘I was 20 years old and we had so many centre forwards at Highfield Road I ended up being out on the left wing most of the time.

‘In my mind, I needed to get away and prove myself in the position I felt I was strong enough at. I always was a centre forward and it was about getting your chance to establish yourself in that role.

‘My dad, Tony, had been a striker with Aston Villa, Chelsea and Liverpool and wanted me to stay in the top flight. He insisted it was hard enough remaining in Division One, never mind dropping out of it willingly.

‘He obviously wanted the best for me and at that particular moment didn’t feel the move to Pompey was right. I was also playing for England under-21s, so to him it was all wrong.

Mark Hateley has returned to the south coast in recent years to feature in charity matches for the Lee Rigby Foundation. Here he is with Lyn Rigby

‘The argument was a phone call, in fact a lot of phone calls, which ended up with the phone getting slammed down and basically an “I will show you” type of thing.

‘Thankfully, I made the right decision, I didn’t make too many wrong decisions in my career and that particular season turned out to be a ridiculous year for me.

‘I had a few other offers in that summer of 1983, including Watford under Graham Taylor, but as soon as I spoke to Bobby Campbell and chairman John Deacon in a Luton hotel at the end of May 1983 I was sold on it, absolutely, and signed.

‘An arbitrated fee would later put it at £190,000 - a club record - and it was just the perfect match. About four months later when the goals were going in my dad started to talk to me again!

‘We were two peas in a pod, he was pretty much the same as me, if we fell out, we fell out, we didn’t care who it was with.

‘On New Year’s Eve in 1984 I was on a winter break from AC Milan and held a party at a house I owned in Nottingham, which my dad came to.

‘Obviously we had seen each other since the move to Pompey, but I walked up to him and said: “Before you say anything, I told you so, I told you it was the right move to make”.

‘He replied: “Aye, but I was never going to tell you that!”. That was it, well and truly buried.

‘My one year at Pompey was the basis of my whole career, it provided the foundations. Without Pompey I don’t think I would ever have achieved what I managed to do.

‘I scored 25 goals in 44 games during that campaign, not a bad return for a young lad, and, by the summer, was an England international and an AC Milan striker.’

Mark Hateley made 44 Pompey appearances and scored 25 goals from May 1983 until June 1984.

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