Growing up at Coventry City, Wolves setback and Spanish odyssey: the making of Portsmouth new boy

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He emerged as a bright, young thing surrounded by transfer talk and predictions of a big future.

Yet Ben Stevenson’s football journey has been as much about responding to adversity and embracing challenges, over a pampered rise as a midfielder of promise.

And the 26-year-old is now out to make Pompey the beneficiary of his tumultuous experience in the game, as he aims to write an exciting next chapter in his career.

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Ironically his latest stop-off was to play as seminal role in the biggest formative moment of the summer arrival’s career, as he looked set to scale lofty heights as a teenager.

Stevenson’s Coventry City debut came in an EFL Cup match against Pompey as a 19-year-old in 2016, with talk of big-money moves to the likes of Brentford soon following.

Molineux and Wolves was to be his destination two year later, but the anticipated lift-off never materialised and the Leicester lad soon found himself operating in the lower reaches of Spanish football with FC Jumilla.

It was a leftfeld turn for Stevenson’s career, but one he believes helped him develop on an unlikely football journey.

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‘There’s been a few ups and downs.’ said Stevenson, as he spoke of his voyage.

Pompey new boy Ben Stevenson in action against Bognor last night. Picture: Jason Brown.Pompey new boy Ben Stevenson in action against Bognor last night. Picture: Jason Brown.
Pompey new boy Ben Stevenson in action against Bognor last night. Picture: Jason Brown.

‘I was at Coventry since the age of eight. I came all the way up through the age groups into the first team, played 50 games there and then got a move to Wolves.

‘It didn’t completely work out there, at the point I moved there things really changed at the club.

‘It went from a Championship to Premier League team over the summer and things really moved. Things were a lot financially better for them.

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‘So I had a couple of loans and got the experience to play in Spain.

‘That was good for me. I was only 20 and it came really quick on the last day of the transfer window.

‘I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it, but it’s something I’m glad I did. I played quite a lot of football out there, got an experience of what football is like playing elsewhere.

‘It was six months which made me mature quicker. There was the language barrier and it made me grow up – no one spoke English apart from a couple of Wolves lads who came over as well.

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‘I was a long way from home and I never came back at all, it made me grow up and I was grateful for the experience.’

After leaving Wolves, it was a step down to League Two with Colchester which helped Stevenson consolidate his career, amid nearly 100 appearances across two-and-a-half years in Essex.

A League Two title-winning campaign with Forest Green was to follow, before their return to the fourth tier last term, before Pompey came calling in a turn of events the player even the player himself perhaps didn’t see coming.

Stevenson added: ‘I did want to come back to England after Spain and the opportunity came to play men’s football at Colchester.

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‘It was what I wanted to do and what I missed. So I spent a couple of years there and had a couple of play-off pushes.

‘Then I went to Forest Green - it went really well winning the league.

‘I guess last season then speaks for itself, but when I heard about Pompey it was obviously something I was interested in straightaway.

‘It really was a no-brainer and I jumped at the chance. There’s not many clubs you’d want to go to instead of Portsmouth.

‘So now I’m here, and have a big opportunity to be part of this group and push to achieve something really exciting.’

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