Former Portsmouth outcast Paul Downing reveals 'difficult' times under Kenny Jackett - and targets bright Blues future

Paul Downing is adamant that professional pride prevented him from drowning during ‘difficult’ times under Kenny Jackett.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 6:00 pm
Paul Downing returned to Pompey's League One side at the end of last season after 19 months away. Picture: Joe Pepler

Now the central defender is pledging to finally prove his Pompey worth to the supporters still to glimpse his best.

The former Blackburn Rovers man went 19 months without a league outing after being exiled by Jackett.

However, he ended last season in the Blues first-team under Danny Cowley, surprisingly starting the final two League One matches.

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Following the departures of Jack Whatmough and Rasmus Nicolaisen, Downing is among three centre-halves presently at Fratton Park.

And he’s relishing the first-team opportunity he had refused to give up on.

He told The News: ‘I’ve had some good conversations with the manager since he’s come in and things hopefully look quite bright for me in the future, especially this season.

‘I’m looking to show him what I am capable of and hopefully get more games like I did at the back end of last season.

‘The age I’m at now I want to play football. I think I can offer the team a lot, I have proven that in my career so far.

‘The Pompey fans haven't seen the best of me yet, that’s for sure.

‘If you ask anyone in the group, hopefully they will say I have tried to remain consistent in what I did.

‘I was obviously very disappointed with how it went under the last manager, there were definitely some difficult times.

‘But my mentality to come in, train hard and keep myself fit hopefully shows a lot about my character.

‘I’ve got a lot of personal pride in my profession and want to always try my best. I feel very privileged to play for Pompey and be a professional footballer.

‘Obviously there are often stories of people giving up and starting to become toxic, but that’s not in my nature.

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‘I have a good support network behind me with my family and friends, I didn’t ever lose hope.

‘They say that good times normally follow bad, so it was never going to last forever and hopefully with the couple of appearances I made towards the end of last season there’s a part to play for me this year.’

Downing has made just 23 appearances in two seasons since arriving at Fratton Park in June 2019.

The 29-year-old is out of tomorrow’s friendly at Bristol City (2pm) with a hamstring problem, but can now see plenty of other opportunities ahead.

He added: ‘When you don’t play, you sometimes knock on the manager’s door and want to explore opportunities.

‘There was one potentially in January to move on, but with Covid and financial implications for football clubs, it never really got close.

‘The change of manager has come at a good time for me. Everyone has a clean slate and there’s a fresh pair of eyes to look at you.

‘I’ve had a good 10-12 years playing at the top end of League One, you don’t become a bad player overnight. I certainly haven’t, it was just a difference in opinion.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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