Millwall's Ben Thompson: I wouldn't be where I am without Portsmouth - I owe them so much

Grateful Ben Thompson credits his Pompey education for developing him into a Championship player.

Ben Thompson (centre) celebrates scoring in the 3-1 triumph over Sunderland in December 2018 - his favourite Pompey match. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Thompson (centre) celebrates scoring in the 3-1 triumph over Sunderland in December 2018 - his favourite Pompey match. Picture: Joe Pepler

The midfielder arrived on the south coast in August 2018 on a season-long loan in a bid to kickstart a career which had somewhat stalled.

With three league appearances for Millwall in 12 months, Thompson was relying on the occasional cup outing for first-team action.

At Pompey, however, he established himself as a hugely popular figure, netting three times in 27 appearances for Kenny Jackett's men.

Recalled by Millwall halfway through his Blues spell in January 2019, Thompson has since totalled 31 starts for the Championship side, injury permitting.

And he pinpoints his Pompey stay as pivotal to his ongoing career development.

Thompson told The News: ‘I feel I’m a better player now than when I first joined Pompey.

‘Pompey gave me the confidence. I was playing week in, week out, enjoying my football and it enabled me to go on and do better things.

‘The first couple of games were tough, I wasn’t up to match speed, but once I got going and into a rhythm, my time at Pompey was brilliant, I cannot fault it one bit.

‘It gave me the confidence to be a better player, it provided the platform to build on. I’ll never forget my time there.

‘I didn’t know what to expect when I first joined, I was nervous going in there and didn’t really know what I was going to do.

‘That was the first time I had been away, so you learn life skills, it builds you as a player and a person, and that has helped me massively in my career so far.

‘I’m definitely now more confident on the pitch, maybe I’m also more of a leader out there, speaking more on and off the pitch. That loan helped develop me as an all-round person and player.

‘I worked with Kenny (Jackett) at Millwall for a short time before he left, he's a top manager and a top guy. He spoke to me every day and made sure I was doing the right things.

‘That time at Fratton Park was one of the biggest highlights of my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Pompey.’

Thompson pinpoints the 3-1 success over Sunderland at Fratton Park in December 2018 as the favourite match of his loan.

While the dramatic FA Cup triumph at Norwich signalled a fitting farewell, representing his final Blues appearance.

The 24-year-old added: ‘What a game Norwich was, a great match to go out on I suppose.

‘I knew beforehand it would be my last, I had spoken to both managers. Kenny asked whether I still wanted to play – I couldn't pull out of a game like that.

‘They were great scenes at the end. We dug deep, the boys were fantastic and we celebrated a last-minute winner in front of the away fans.

‘It was a brilliant match to be part of.’

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