'I got the only promotion of my career on my Portsmouth debut - and against my previous club'

His Pompey debut lasted one minute – and yielded the only promotion of a 12-club career.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 9:00 am
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 9:59 am
Stanley Aborah celebrates the League Two title with his team-mates at Fratton Park in May 2017. Picture: Joe Pepler

Just three games later, Stanley Aborah was also toasting the League Two title.

Nonetheless, his 122 minutes of first-team action contributed towards that memorable conclusion to the 2016-17 campaign.

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It would earn him promotion, a medal and the taste of glory he had long craved.

Aborah told The News: ‘Pompey was the only promotion in my career, but most of the time I played in the highest league in different countries.

‘I actually dropped lower because of Notts County, whose manager, Ricardo Moniz, I knew. They had just been relegated – and now I was in League Two in England.

‘Pompey was then a breath of fresh air after everything that went on at Notts County.

Stanley Aborah in action against Mansfield in April 2017 - one of four Pompey appearances. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘It was the atmosphere, the way people were, the whole club. Just a huge, huge difference to Notts County, which lifted my spirits.

‘I have to say, it was strange winning promotion against my old club at Meadow Lane, but that’s part of being a professional player. One day you are here, the next you are somewhere else.

‘After that 3-1 win, we left there on the coach singing songs and when we got back to Fratton Park had those amazing celebrations with the fans. It was great being part of something like that.

‘People don’t really see the work and effort players put in to win a game. Sometimes, when you play badly, fans can be really upset and angry with the players, but nobody goes into a game wanting to lose or wanting to play poorly.

Stanley Aborah (far right) admires his title medal during celebrations on Southsea Common in May 2017. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘My team-mates put a lot of work in during the week – and to see that come to fruition at Meadow Lane was an amazing feeling.’

Aborah would start the following match against Cambridge United for his full debut, featuring for the entire 90 minutes in a 2-1 win, while then appeared as a substitute at Mansfield.

For the final game of the 2016-17 campaign, third-placed Pompey faced Cheltenham at Fratton Park.

It was essential that Paul Cook’s men won – while hoping top-two Plymouth and Doncaster slipped up.

Stanley Aborah and team-mate Jamal Lowe warm-up before a Pompey game. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Aborah added: ‘We knew there was a theoretical chance that we would be champions.

‘A lot of things needed to go well, but you do whatever you can to make sure that, if things go wrong elsewhere, you take the title.

‘Wow, what happened was one of the matches that you cannot forget. Even now, when I’m talking about it, I can feel the atmosphere. It was a special game.

‘Sitting on the bench, you could hear the reaction of the crowd to what was occurring elsewhere.

‘One of the physios had his phone with him checking things, but the crowd were first to let us know. They would start cheering out of nothing – okay one of the teams were losing!

‘I came on for the final 19 minutes and we scored three goals after that, the team kept on going to the very end.

‘The fans entered the pitch at the final whistle and I didn’t see it coming!

’I was around the corner flag when the referee whistled. I could see some players sprinting to get inside, yet stood there thinking “What’s going on?”. Then everyone was on the pitch!

‘One guy wanted to carry me on his shoulders. Although I was part of it, there were other players there the whole season, who did everything to make that success possible. I didn’t think it was appropriate to be carried on the shoulders for the few games that I played.

‘It still took me 10 minutes to get back to the dressing room, though! What a special day.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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