Jermaine Defoe teases that ultra ‘aggressive’ Portsmouth legend was cuddle-loving ‘nice guy’ in reality

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Jermaine Defoe feared one player in particular when arriving at Pompey but soon saw that Hermann Hreiðarsson was a cuddle-loving gent off-the-pitch.

Former Pompey striker Jermaine Defoe has lifted the lid on the affectionate personality behind towering former Blues team-mate Hermann Hreiðarsson.

Some fierce defenders have graced the turf at Fratton Park over the years, but few were more imposing than the 6” 3 “ Icelandic star who made 123 appearances for the club.

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Hreiðarsson was part of the Pompey squad that won the FA Cup in 2008 and stuck by the side after relegation in 2010.

Defoe spent a prolific 12 months on the south coast, where he arrived from Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 as a proven Premier League goalscorer. When coming to Fratton Park, the Englishman knew he would face a reunion with Hreiðarsson, having done battle with the defender when coming up against him in matches between Spurs and Charlton Athletic.

Defoe told the Defoe & Deeney Footballs First podcast: ‘Hermann Hreiðarsson has got this reputation, hard man. He was one of the craziest I've played with.

‘He's one of those ones, you come in the morning and when you walk past him you tense up thinking he's going to grab your neck. Such an aggressive guy.

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‘I was playing against Charlton at White Hart Lane, a corner has come in, he's marking me and I'm trying to get away from him. He's turned around and gone, bang, in my stomach. I looked at him and I thought... why? Why would you punch me in my stomach?

‘He's doing all this stuff and that. I phoned Darren Bent after the game and said speak to your boy. He goes: “J, that's what he's like”.

‘I signed for Portsmouth, went into the changing room up to Hermann and he grabbed and cuddled me. He's one of the nicest guys I met in football.’

After leaving Pompey, Hreiðarsson would go on to spend short spells with Coventry City and two Icelandic teams before moving into management. He is now in charge of IBV in his homeland.

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Hreiðarsson was known for his physical performances (Image: Getty Images)Hreiðarsson was known for his physical performances (Image: Getty Images)
Hreiðarsson was known for his physical performances (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

This year the star opened up about his time at Fratton Park to Sky Sports, praising 'big characters' like Defoe who surrounded him. He said: ‘It was pound for pound, player for player, the best team that I ever played in. We had Glen Johnson, Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin with me in defence and David James in goal so we kept a lot of clean sheets which is the backbone to any success. There were big characters in there. Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Niko Kranjcar, Sulley Muntari.

‘We were after something that year. We wanted a trophy. So when we beat Manchester United, one of their strongest ever teams, in the quarter-final of the FA Cup, and Chelsea lost to Barnsley too, that was big. That was the moment we all looked at each other.

‘We were favourites. It was ours to lose, if you like. We had the players to overcome the rest if we played to our best. It is not always as easy as that but we had strong heads, winners. To win that trophy was the definite highlight of my career by a mile.’

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