FA unveil lasting tribute to former Portsmouth, Southampton, Middlesbrough and Swindon Town defender

The FA have paid tribute to former Pompey defender Jon Gittens by naming a pitch at St George’s Park in his memory.

By Jordan Cross
Thursday, 4th November 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th November 2021, 12:17 pm

Football’s governing body have taken steps to remember the man who made 99 Blues appearances between 1993 and 1996, following his death in 2019 at the age of 55.

Gittens’ family were in attendance for an official naming service last month, with the pitch, which will be used for coaching development work, providing a lasting legacy to his services to football.

The former Middlesbrough, Southampton and Swindon Town man was seen as pioneer in coach education after his playing retirement.

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Gittens offered a leading voice on equality, diversion and inclusion in his time working with the FA, as well as acting as mentor for a new generation of coaching talent from ethnically diverse communities.

Jon’s son Alexander said of the tribute: ‘To rename a pitch here after dad, a place that plays host to so many from all over the world, from grassroots to elite level is a great honour and a fitting tribute to someone that gave so much of himself back to the game and those who played or coached it.

‘To think dad will continue to play a part in the development of future generations that come to train here is an amazing feeling and makes us all extremely proud.

‘I hope The Jon Gittens Pitch can become a symbol and a reminder of what can be achieved through hard work, dedication, and resilience. Fittingly, being Black History Month, I also hope that it can provide inspiration to anyone from under-represented groups making their way in the game.

Former Pompey defender Jon Gittens PICTURE:MARCUS MINGINS

‘Dad was a proud black man and I know giving something back to diverse communities was very important to him.’

Lucy Pearson, The FA’s Director of Education, believes a legacy at England's home is a fitting way to remember Gittens and his work.

She said: ​‘Jon’s legacy to the game is rightly marked with the naming of this pitch at St. George’s Park. His reputation as a considerate and thoughtful coach developer, whose passion for and insight into the game informed the development of many coaches up and down the country, is testament to his achievements and influence.'

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