Ex-Portsmouth academy ace reveals how 'gamble' to leave club for Reading has paid off ahead of Blues reunion with Accrington

Former Pompey starlet Jack Nolan believes the ‘gamble’ to leave the club as a teenager has paid off ahead of his Blues reunion.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 4:55 am

The 20-year-old left the Fratton Park outfit’s academy for Reading aged 14, as the chance to move to a category one academy proved too good of an opportunity to turn down.

Now at Accrington, Nolan is expected to be involved in John Coleman’s match-day squad as he faces his hometown club for the first time in his career.

Despite seeking pastures new six years ago, the winger admitted it wasn’t an easy decision to leave.

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But speaking to The News ahead of today’s Wham Stadium game, he admitted he made the right decision.

Nolan said: ‘It (Pompey) is certainly the game I looked forward to when the fixtures were released.

‘I’ve got a lot of respect for the club for their help in my development when I was younger and coming through the academy.

‘The club did a lot for me, and I actually chose Pompey over Southampton when I had the options of both academies.

Former Pompey academy starlet Jack Nolan is set to face his former club for the first time in his career today. Picture: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

‘Before I moved on to Reading they developed me and played a big part in the player that I am today.

‘I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Pompey. I think the time came for me to move on.

‘It was a hard decision to leave the club and not one I just made on the spot.

‘It was a decision that took months in the pipeline while talking with my family.

‘To be fair to the club, they just sat me down and said “obviously, we want you to stay, but it’s an opportunity that would benefit you” – so it was a mutual understanding.

‘But it was especially hard because of the group I was with. The lads that I was playing with at Pompey had been together from under-niness all the way through to under-15s when I left.

‘Some think with football you just want the best career you can, but when you’re playing with good lads and you’re doing well with a team and individually, it’s hard to move on because I could have gone to Reading and not have achieved what I have and gone the other way.

‘It was a gamble at the time, but the gamble has paid off at the moment.’

Nolan made his professional debut for Walsall after leaving the Royals in 2020, before signing for Coleman’s side a year later.

Under the former Rochdale manager, Stanley have established themselves as a force in League One and Nolan revealed he’s loving life under the 59-year-old.

The Portsmouth-born winger has made five appearances for Accrington so far this season and scored his first professional goal in the EFL Trophy victory over Leicester City under-23s.

And although he’s already shown great promise at the Wham Stadium, his feet are firmly on the ground as he seeks to impress his first-team manager further.

Nolan continued: ‘John Coleman’s a great manager and a great guy.

‘’It’s very much clear the way they want to play and everyone’s on the same page as well in terms of how the manager wants us to play and how we want to play, too.

‘With him, Jimmy Bell, and John Doolan, they do a great job along with everyone else behind the scenes. It’s definitely something that I’m enjoying and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with them.

‘For me this season, it’s about getting as many games as I can under my belt.

‘I’m still only 20-years-old and still young so it’s important for me to take every opportunity that I can.

‘I’ve got experience of games under my belt with Walsall and a few now at Accrington so getting more would be my personal aim.

‘From the club as a whole, hopefully we can push towards the play-offs and have a really good go.

‘Accrington is a club that people look at and see us as underdogs, but against a big-club like Charlton on Tuesday night we’ve gone there and got a good result and we’re capable of doing that.

‘I think we know as a whole if we can do that more consistently, then hopefully we can have a good run this season.’