From Eastleigh to one of biggest jobs in world football: Pompey signing which never was

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He was the former Barcelona star who turned up at Pompey’s ramshackle Eastleigh training base.

When it comes to odd Blues scenarios down the years, the sight of Thiago Motta appearing at a venue shared with hockey-playing pupils from King Edward VI School is surely near the top of the list.

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That was what unfolded 16 years ago, as Harry Redknapp ran the rule over Brazil-born Italian international, in the wake of his side’s never-to-be-forgotten FA Cup-winning campaign.

Motta had moved on from the Nou Camp and spent a season with Atletico Madrid, but was dealing with knee issues and came to Pompey off the back of surgery.

There was an appearance in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Sunderland, but a move was never concluded and the midfielder instead moved to Italian outfit Genoa.

Motta’s career was to soar from there, as the combative operator moved on to Inter Milan and then spent six memorable years with Paris St Germain.

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Redknapp said of the unlikely situation at the time: ‘I liked him, I think chief executive Peter Storrie has made him a short-term contract offer.

‘If you ask me, though, I do get the feeling it is not going to happen.

‘He has had a bad knee but if that's all right he's a good player.

‘I saw him play against Chelsea two or three years ago for Barcelona and he was fantastic that night in the middle of the park.’

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Motta called time on a memorable playing career six years ago and quickly moved into coaching at age-group level with PSG.

It’s a path the 41-year-old has embraced, with it now taking him to the top of the tree in European club football, as he landed in the managerial hot-seat at Juventus this week.

He arrives at the old lady of Turin with his stock high, after guiding Serie A outfit Bologna into the Champions League this term.

Motta also had stints with Spezia and Genoa ahead of his high-profile appointment as the successor of Massimiliano Allegri, who was sacked two days after winning the Italian Cup.

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Motta said of his appointment: ‘I am really happy to begin a new chapter at the helm of a great club like Juventus..

‘I thank the owners and the management, who can be sure of my ambition to keep the Juventus flag flying high and to please the fans.’

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