How Great Escape hero and a current Blues player united to recruit Manchester City's Gavin Bazunu for Portsmouth

Pompey past and present pitched Fratton Park as the perfect loan destination to the in-demand Gavin Bazunu.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 4:55 am
Former Pompey goalkeeper Dean Kiely put in a good word as Gavin Bazunu mulled over a Fratton Park switch. Picture: John Walton

Thankfully for Danny Cowley, the 19-year-old heeded such solid advice.

Certainly Bazunu admits his Republic of Ireland goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely had been particularly persuasive when detailing Pompey’s charms.

Kiely, of course, was the goalkeeper in the Blues’ memorable Great Escape in 2005-06 under Harry Redknapp.

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Likewise, Bazunu’s international team-mate Ronan Curtis not only painted an attractive picture but also served as the Blues’ go-between after instructed by Cowley to obtain Bazunu’s phone number.

Bazunu told The News: ‘I’ve worked with Dean Kiely at the last two Irish international camps and, with him being a former Pompey player, I spoke to him.

‘When I was speaking to Danny, a lot of the time I was on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, so I asked Dean for his advice.

‘He thought it would be an absolutely brilliant loan for me. He told me about the massive fanbase, a huge football city, and playing in front of 15-20,000 at Fratton Park.

‘Dean was right behind me coming here and thought it could only aid my development.

‘Ronan was also on the international trip and said some great things about Danny. He was actually the contact – getting my number to put me in touch with Danny.

‘I knew Pompey were on the radar, it was just a case of Ronan passing my number onto Danny to get the conversation started.

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‘Danny then sent me a text and we had a couple of phone calls over that week.’

Bazunu has totalled four appearances for the Republic of Ireland since making his international debut in March.

And also in attendance was Curtis, who regards the Pompey loanee highly.

Curtis added: ‘Gavin’s a great lad and a top, top keeper. He will go far.

‘He’s good at shot stopping, he comes for crosses, he’s got a good passing range, and saved a few penalties as well. He’s got it all.

‘Danny told me he wanted to speak to him. We were in Spain at the time so I had a chat with Gavin, asked about his options for next year and said to him “What do you think about coming to the south coast?”.

‘I passed on his number, so you can say I got the ball rolling!’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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