Graham Rix has paid tribute to ‘much loved’ former defender Justin Edinburgh.
Rix was Pompey boss when the left-back was forced to retire through an Achilles injury in March 2002.
The last of the former Spurs man’s 38 Blues outings arrived in a 3-2 success at Sheffield Wednesday in November 2001.
Following retirement, Edinburgh forged a career in management, most recently leading Leyton Orient back into the Football League.
However, on Saturday, he died at the age of 49 following a heart attack.
And Rix delivered his respects to a player which featured under him as Pompey manager.
He said: ‘It’s so sad, Justin was a great lad and 49 is absolutely no age whatsoever.
‘That little era of Lee Bradbury and Shaun Derry, I’m still in contact with those guys and he was part of that group. I can’t believe it.
‘He was a smashing, smashing man. It doesn’t matter what your footballing ability and what your coaching ability is, as a fella he was top notch and I am devastated for his family.
‘He had a few problems with injury during my time at Pompey, but was always smiling, always enthusiastic, always supportive, a really top, top bloke.
‘Justin was much loved and respected because of how he was, he had that manner about him, what a fantastic bloke.
‘It wasn’t necessarily easy for him because he was injured quite a bit while I was there, but he remained positive, always respectful, always helping the younger lads and encouraging them, because there were a lot of young lads in the team.
‘An absolute model pro, who obviously had a good upbringing coming through Spurs – and a great fella.’
Tony Pulis brought Edinburgh to Pompey in March 2000 in a £150,000 deal from Spurs.
His 11 years and 279 appearances for the White Hart Lane club also earned him a testimonial.
As a manager, Edinburgh took charge of Rushden & Diamonds, Newport Country, Gillingham, Northampton and Orient.