Alfie Bridgman’s flourishing reputation coupled with an impressive second half to the season saw him rewarded with third-year scholarship terms with Pompey.
It has also earned a maiden call-up for Malta under-19s as the midfielder sets his sights on making an impact on the international stage.
Despite born in Portsmouth and never having visited Malta, Bridgman qualifies through his grandmother, Christine, who was born and lived her formative years there.
The talented 18-year-old came to the Malta FA’s attention after they noticed the Maltese flag fixed on his Instagram profile along with the St George Cross.
Subsequently, following a recent relaxation of qualification rules, Bridgman has been named in their squad for two forthcoming under-19 friendlies against Northern Ireland.
And the Crookhorn-based family are delighted with the latest recognition for the highly-regarded former Rocks loanee.
Dad Glenn told The News: ‘Alfie’s form since Christmas has been unreal, both at Pompey and Bognor, and now he has the chance of international football.
‘My granddad served in the Navy and was based in Malta for a while, with my mum being born there and living there for a while before coming to England.
‘As a result, Alfie has both the Malta and England flags on his Instagram account. Someone once asked why and it went from there – with the president of the Malta FA contacting him.
‘Malta previously insisted two relatives had to be from the county to qualify, whereas Fifa have long said it could be one, but that has now changed.
‘There were talks with Malta 18 months ago, yet with Covid and the old ruling, Alfie couldn’t play for them. Then three weeks ago they approached him again.
‘He’ll be linking up with the under-19s for the first time on Monday for two friendlies and hopefully that goes well for him.
‘Pompey have been really good with Alfie and the experiences this may bring can also be beneficial to his development.’
Bridgman, who attended Purbrook Park School and has been with Pompey since the age of 11, begins his international career next Monday when he joins the squad.
Malta Under-19s are scheduled to face their Northern Ireland counterparts on June 8 and June 10 in two friendlies in Malta.
He previously attended an under-15 training camp with England, featuring in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Port Vale youngsters.
The 18-year-old has two Pompey first-team appearances to his name, while recently enjoyed a successful loan spell at Bognor, with two goals in five matches.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron