'I didn't do anything wrong. People need to hear the truth' - Portsmouth's Ronan Curtis puts the record straight amid hurtful rumours and Astoria accusations
His swaggering on-pitch persona exudes confidence, intense belief, and an often wild passion bordering on temporary irrationality.
Certainly the Republic of Ireland international can back up such self-assurance, with 40 goals in 142 appearances for Pompey primarily arriving from the left wing.
Yet, in the absence of football for the Blues this summer, Curtis has escalated into a controversial figure.
That infamous Snapchat post and rumours of his role in the headline-grabbing Astoria incident have dragged focus away from playing talents destined for the Championship.
Having lived in the city since arriving from Derry in May 2018, the winger is within earshot of those whispered insinuations, stinging accusations and social media lynchings.
And he wants to put the record straight.
‘People get the wrong end of the stick and judge me on how I am on the football pitch,’ Curtis told The News.
‘I may come across as cocky and arrogant on the pitch, but that’s because I am cocky and arrogant for my team, I want to win, I’m passionate. I want to do as well as I can to fulfil my destiny and see where it takes me in life, not just for Pompey.
‘I haven’t got anything against anyone, but should they have a problem with me or my family, the first thing they do is go on social media and write about it. They never come to me and say it.
‘People think I am like that outside of football, but if you ask any of these lads here what I’m like off the pitch they will tell you the same thing as Danny Cowley said about me having a good heart.
‘Look at the best players in the world. Ronaldo is arrogant, he’s powerful, he’s cocky, but he’s the nicest lad off the pitch. He gets a lot of rubbish, but he’s focused and dedicated – that’s what you've got to be as a footballer.
‘There are some fans that hate me, probably one or two per cent, but I thrive off that. It makes me want to do better things and bigger things.
‘The stats never lie. When I first joined I said I was here to set up goals, score goals and help my team-mates out. I am now three goals away from being Pompey’s top scorer in the 21st Century.
‘I have done loads of things off the pitch and on the pitch that I regret, but most of the time I am the one some fans look for, the one they want to try to tease, they want to get at me. It won’t work, though.
‘I’m from a big family, I have 11 siblings, we are loving, we care for each other. If a kid’s here waiting for me, I will sign anything for them. I go out of my way, I visit their house to give them a pair of boots or whatever they want.
‘That’s what I’ve done over the past three years, but it’s the little things that fans probably don’t see, instead they judge me on one thing.’
Curtis’ name remains tainted by what occurred on May 9.
Earlier that day, the Blues surrendered a play-off spot in the final fixture of the season, slipping to a dismal defeat to Accrington at Fratton Park.
Danny Cowley’s men had entered the match in sixth place. Victory would have secured their presence in the League One semi-finals for a third successive campaign. They lost 1-0.
That evening, Pompey’s squad headed out for end-of-season drinks around the Southsea area, before some unsuccessfully attempted to gain entry to nightclub Astoria, in Guildhall Walk.
The police, who were called to the scene, spoke to witnesses and studied CCTV from the area. No further action was taken – and no complaint was received. Pompey also carried out their own investigation.
Curtis admits he was present that Sunday evening, but strongly refutes the accusations which have subsequently dogged him.
‘It does look bad, it does reflect on me, but if you see the footage then you’ll know I didn't do anything wrong,’ he added.
‘People are going around saying “He’s done this, he’s done that”, but they don’t have a clue what happened. It’s rumours, one person starts it and loads of people jump on it.
‘But I can hold my head high because I know what really happened.
‘That night outside Astoria, there was loads of smashed glass on the floor and this man didn’t have any shoes on. He was very drunk, we were all drunk at the end of the day.
‘I said to him: “Where’s your shoes, mate? You’re going to hurt your feet, your feet are going to be cut to pieces”.
‘I was looking out for him, but he took it the wrong way. He must have thought I was mugging him off or making him out to be small or something. He took it badly.
‘He came into my face and I just pushed him away. That’s all I did, I moved him out of my way.
‘The police know the truth, they’ve got the cameras on their chest and there were cameras by Astoria. It was outside, so there were people also around.
‘The police took my phone number and said they’d let me know, I replied “Fine”. I knew in my heart that I had done nothing wrong. It would be different if I had whacked him with my fist, but I didn’t hurt him in a malicious way. I didn’t do anything wrong.
‘Some people seem to think I had beaten him up or all the players jumped on him, but it was nothing of the sort. If the CCTV got out then fans would see what actually happened.
‘It was a stupid incident, I hold my hands up, it was my fault. Yet the police didn’t take action and Pompey didn’t fine me – which says everything.
‘The club know the truth. If a player does anything wrong, they will chuck him out and sack him straight away. I am still here – they know I’m telling the truth and have done nothing wrong.
‘People can have their opinions, but they’re just not right, they are talking rubbish. One person says one thing, the next says another and then they hop on the bandwagon and copy each other.
‘I’m a grown man, I can handle it. I’ve been brought up hard by my family, so it didn’t bother me really because I didn’t do anything wrong.
‘I know what was right, but it was harsh on my family when people started slagging them off, that’s a no-go. That is crossing the line.
‘And for what reason? Over something I didn’t do.’
Earlier that evening, Curtis had caused controversy when a Snapchat video appeared across social media.
It depicted former skipper Tom Naylor and vice-captain Lee Brown downing a shot, with the Irishman unseen behind the camera joining in, while uttering ‘cheers boys’.
Accompanying the footage, written across the screen, was ‘Let’s go’ and two winking emojis.
The moment had been captured at Southsea’s Brewhouse and Kitchen as the squad came together for the final time that season after finishing a disappointing eighth in League One.
According to some present at the pub, Pompey’s players obligingly posed for photographs with youngsters and their parents, chatting freely and behaving respectfully and politely throughout.
Certainly it appears that video created a false narrative – yet Curtis does not regret posting it.
He said: ‘We had planned that evening for three or four months before.
‘When we were in lockdown, we said we needed to do a team bonding session at the end of the season.
‘Should we get promoted, we’d go away to Vegas or somewhere like that. If not, and with loads of players out of contract and leaving, we would have a good jolly up and a laugh.
‘That’s all it was, it was planned. We weren’t celebrating not getting into the play-offs.
‘There were connections with some of these players for three years and they were leaving, we wanted to say goodbye. It was the last time we would all be together as a group.
‘I don’t regret putting that video out on my personal Snapchat. It turned out someone was on there, they said they were a close friend of mine – well they aren’t any more after doing that to me.
‘They put it out and every other fan jumped on it, yet I don’t regret what I did.
‘People might think it’s wrong that we went out after losing the game and didn’t get into the play-offs, but we went out because we had it planned. It was something we needed to do.
‘We always have a night out if we need to bond. Or it could be a game of golf. On Thursday, we did paintballing, that’s the bond. Is that wrong as well? People wouldn’t jump on that, though, because it doesn’t involve alcohol.
‘I never put that video out there to cause harm to anyone. What people say is what they say, what I say is different.
‘I took it down and had a chat with Mark (Catlin) at the time and felt I wasn’t in the wrong – and he agreed.
‘I go on social media, but don’t take any offence to what people say. I won’t take criticism from anyone who doesn’t credit me with success.
‘That's the rule I live by. Most of them I don’t know personally, so I have nothing against them – and they should have nothing against me.
‘That’s the truth of it.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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