'I had to leave Portsmouth for sake of my career - it's the best thing I could've done': Newcastle United giant-killing hero on Blues exit for Cambridge United
It will go down as one of the most famous FA Cup giant-killing acts of recent years.
Little, old Cambridge United sitting 17th in League One, going to the new richest club in world football and putting Newcastle United to the sword in front of their own fans.
It’s an afternoon former Pompey midfielder Adam May will never, ever forget.
It’s also an occasion which underlined just why the Blues academy graduate had to make the decision to leave the club he’d spent his life at.
Roundly touted as one of the most talented of his crop of emerging players which included the likes of Jack Whatmough, Ben Close, Conor Chaplin, Brandon Haunstrup and Alex Bass, May had been restricted to 10 league starts amid a succession of loans since his 2015 debut.
It was clear the elegant talent had to move on for the sake of his career. Now a year-and-a-half on from his departure, May is reflecting on the kind of moment many of his contemporaries will never experience.
‘I’m still buzzing about it,’ May admitted, when looking back on the weekend’s events.
‘It’s got to go number one (in his career achievements). It has to.‘I’ve been luck to have a few good experiences.
‘I got to the fifth round of the FA Cup win Sutton, there was the Checkatrade at Pompey and promotion last season. But this felt special.
‘We didn’t end up leaving the ground until 7pm. We stayed there for a few hours and just milked the moment.
‘To have 5,000 fans up there was class, they filled the whole top tier. They did really well for us.
‘It was one of those days which won’t come around too often in your career.
‘So you have to enjoy the moment as much as you can, especially with the amount of fans we took up there.
‘It really was something else.’
The focus has been firmly on May and his team-mates, after Joe Ironside scored the game’s only goal in front of 51,395 supporters.
The 24-year-old acknowledged there were some hairy moments after his Cambridge flat-mate’s 56th-minute goal, but was adamant Mark Bonner’s men were good value for the win.
He added: ‘I just think with the hype at Newcastle and everything that’s going on there, there was even more focus on it with them going full strength as well.
‘It was a massive, massive win and as a collective we couldn’t have played any better.
‘Our keeper was excellent and they did pepper us, but we all stood up to the task.
‘We knew we would be under pressure at times with the team they put out, but we started quite well and created our own chances.
‘It was a long half an hour after the goal though! I think I checked that board every minute after we scored!
‘We knew after getting the goal they would pile on the pressure with 50,000 fans behind them.
‘But we were prepared for that, we defended well and I thought we deserved the win.’
It was a big call for May to make the Cambridge move in September 2020, as he stepped down to League Two and left the south coast.
It was calculated risk based on aiding his own development, and after 74 appearances a promotion and now FA Cup glory it’s one which has quickly reaped dividends.
‘It was a fresh start,’ said May, who helped his new side deservedly defeat his old outfit in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night.
‘I needed to get myself playing and get myself more established and learn the game.
‘I feel I’m definitely doing that and I’m enjoying my football. If I’m honest, this is the most I’ve ever enjoyed my football.
‘I played 46 games last season and I’m more than half way there this season.
‘My confidence is going up and I feel I’m getting better and better each week. That’s all I ever wanted.
‘I just want to play every week - and that’s allowed my confidence to grow.
‘I’ve seen the other (Pompey) lads go away, and I’ve gone away now and it’s been a fresh start. We’ve all gone away now to new clubs and are doing well.
‘I just think it’s the best thing I could have ever done.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
Get 30 per cent off our sport subscription, which gives readers unlimited access to all our Pompey and grassroots coverage for just 9p a day, by using the promo code JanSports30. The deal expires at midnight on January 31.