It’s what Macca would’ve wanted - Portsmouth midfielder Ben Close on leaving his hometown club after 13 years for Doncaster Rovers

Ben Close believes Alan McLoughlin would’ve wanted him to take the plunge and leave Pompey.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 4:56 am

And the midfielder admitted the time feels right to end his 13-year association with the club he’s spent his football career at for a new challenge.

Close’s move to Doncaster Rovers was confirmed last week, after failing to agree a new contract with the Blues.

His departure is an emotional one as he leaves the club he joined as an 11-year-old to move to Yorkshire.

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One of the key influences on Close’s career was undoubtedly Alan McLoughlin who operated in roles with both the academy and first team before his sad death last month.

And the Southsea lad has no doubts about what the Republic of Ireland international would’ve thought about Close spreading his wings and leaving PO4.

He said: ‘I think Macca would’ve like it, and he would’ve liked me to try something new.

‘I think he would have liked me to test my ability somewhere else.

Ben Close celebrates the Checkatrade Trophy win in 2019.

‘Sometimes you have to open up sometimes and take that leap.

‘I’ve got the opportunity to play for a manager who’s tried to sign me on more than one occasion.

‘It means moving out of the area, but it feels like the right time to do it.

‘I’ve spoken to a lot of players who’ve been here and left.

‘I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about moving on

‘With the place I’m going to, I’m confident I can show what I can do.

‘It’s great to sign for someone who has shown that interest in me on more than one occasion, too.

‘He’s seen me play on several occasions and he obviously feels he can develop me as a player and I can do well there.

‘Over the years I thought this day would come.

‘I always thought it would be a bit of a shock and I’d be really sad to be leaving the club.

‘There are mixed emotions and there is some sadness at leaving, but I’m just really excited at the challenge.

‘I’ve not known anything else, so it is exciting to think about the next experience.’

Close clocked up 190 first-team appearances in his time at Pompey after making his debut in 2014, and the midfielder has no doubt about the highlights in that time.

He added: ‘I’ve had a whole load of incredible memories.

‘The best would probably be winning at Wembley.

‘That moment will be hard to beat in my whole career.

‘Winning at a full Wembley in such a big game with two big teams was unbelievable.

‘The memories of my first goal at Blackpool are quite vivid still.

‘I remember celebrating, running off towards the fans and actually seeing people I’ve grown up with my whole life.

‘It was a pretty surreal and proud moment.

‘My debut was special but it’s those two moments which are right up there.’

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