Midfielder admits he was released by Portsmouth as youngster before sealing move to League One rivals

Tommy Leigh revealed he was released by Pompey as a youngster before earning his way into the Football League.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 4:55 am

Leigh caught the Blues' League One rivals' eye for the Rocks and penned a two-year contract at the Wham Stadium.

The 21-year-old's had to forge his pathway into the professional game the hard way.

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After leaving Fratton Park, he played for Wessex League sides AFC Portchester and Baffins Milton Rovers before joining Bognor.

Some members of the Fratton faithful will naturally be disappointed Pompey perhaps haven't taken a chance on Leigh and that he's been lured away for their patch.

However, speaking to Accrington's Youtube channel, Leigh admitted he was on his hometown club's books before he was let go as a 16-year-old.

He said: ‘I started at Pompey when I was younger. I went there for five years but got released when I was about 16.

Tommy Leigh in action during his Baffins days. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘Then I went to Portchester and played reserve football before going to Baffins Milton Rovers and Bognor Regis, where I played for two years.

‘I got scouted by Accrington and come up for two games. After that, I spoke to my agent and they said they wanted to offer me two years.

‘It's a massive jump, to be fair. It's four leagues above so it's going to be tough. I've got to work hard and knuckle down.

‘At Bognor, I was still working on site doing my labouring work, but I had to do it to earn money.

Tommy Leigh, right, with Priory School team-mate Harvey Tanner after they won the U-13 Schools' Cup at Fratton Park in 2013. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131225-1)

‘I'm over the moon. I play central defensive midfielder, I get the ball and move it about and I can also play in the No10 role and hopefully score a couple of goals but I have got to work hard now.

‘It's a massive opportunity for me, I am nervous but I am buzzing as well.’

Leigh will be back on the south coast when Accrington travel to Pompey on March 5, 2021.