Former Portsmouth favourite Gareth Evans enjoying new lease of life working under ex-Southampton and Manchester City boss 'hero' Mark Hughes following period of Bradford 'torture'

Former Pompey favourite Gareth Evans is back in the Bradford fold and scoring again - after enduring a period of self-confessed 'torture'.

By Lewis Mason
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 10:15 am

Evans, 33, who departed the Blues to return to his native north in the summer of 2020 following a five-year south coast stay, had put the Bantams ahead before they went down 2-1 at home League Two play-off chasers Swindon on Saturday.

But for the man who made 218 Pompey appearances and netted 38 times after arriving initially on trial in the summer of 2015, he's just relieved to be in the Bradford playing frame again.

Evans' start in the Swindon defeat was the first time he'd feature from the outset for the Bantams in four months - since a 1-1 EFL Trophy draw at League One Sunderland on November 9.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The attacker, who also won the League Two title at Pompey in 2017, revealed he had never 'felt lower across his whole career' than he did during his stint out of the reckoning under previous boss Derek Adams, who was sacked by Bradford last month.

Yet Evans' current positive outlook is a world away from where he found himself around four weeks ago, as he is working under his 'hero' and former Southampton and Manchester City manager Mark Hughes at Valley Parade.

Evans told The Sun: ‘I thought I was done. This has been the lowest I have felt in my career, it's been torture really.

‘I tried getting out in January - not because I wanted to leave Bradford but just to play football.

Former Pompey favourite Gareth Evans, right Picture: Joe Pepler

‘There were offers but nothing materialised and I ended up finding myself stuck here and thinking, between now and the end of the season, I'm not going to play under the previous manager.

‘The first day Mark Hughes came in, he said everyone has got the chance. I'm just glad to be back on the field. I thought I wasn't going to get that opportunity, particularly at this club, again.’

Evans will be hoping there are more goals to come from him in the final part of the season, with his strike against Swindon his first in 16 appearances this season.

And he's been afforded the surreal opportunity of being guided by Hughes at Bradford - the man he used to idolise from the Old Trafford terraces, with Evans a former Manchester United trainee himself.

He added: ‘I'm like a sponge around him, trying to absorb everything he knows. He's one of the best of the best, the way he carries himself, his philosophy, so it's only going to benefit the team.

‘I used to watch him from the North Stand at United (Mark Hughes). Growing up, he was a hero of mine, so to see him come into the building, it was like you're not going to get any better than that at this level.’