'No disrespect, I enjoyed every club I played for, but, believe me, Portsmouth fans are something else' - ex-Leeds, West Brom, Brentford, Watford, Reading man Sam Sodje

It was a Fratton Park spell which spanned just nine games and 94 days.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 9:11 am
Sam Sodje tussles with Colchester's Jabo Ibehre on his Pompey debut at Fratton Park in February 2013. Picture: Barry Zee

But Sam Sodje’s south-coast stay was long enough to convince him Pompey fans are among the best he ever encountered.

The powerful defender saw service with Stevenage, Margate, Brentford, Reading, West Brom, Charlton, Watford, Leeds, Greek club Skoda Xanthi and Notts County.

Then, in January 2013, he arrived at the Blues to aid Guy Whittingham’s side’s battle to stay in League One.

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But he has fond memories of a ‘wonderful club’ and their support.

Sodje told The News: ‘With my knee injury, Pompey didn’t really see the bigger picture of Sam Sodje.

‘I played well, but as much as the fans saw those games, they didn’t see what I could really do.

Sam Sodje made 43 appearances for Notts County before arriving at Fratton Park in January 2013. Picture: Andrew Matthews/EMPICS Sport

‘Regardless of who you’ve played for before, when you play for Pompey it is incredible, trust me. Even though you are not up for the game, when you play for Pompey you will be.

‘No disrespect to any other club, I enjoyed every club I played for, but, believe me, Pompey fans are something else.

‘They love the club so much – and if you are wearing the shirt, then they love you.

‘They just support the club. They didn't care that we were struggling, they supported the club. Wow.

Sam Sodje of Brentford celebrates scoring against Southampton in the FA Cup in February 2005. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

‘The noise they make is incredible, any player would want to play for this club.

‘The fans didn’t care where we were in the league table. They apologised to me before the game and would say “Sorry about what is happening”.

‘All my career, I was a never-say-die kind of guy, so when I came to Pompey the fans matched my attitude and it clicked.

‘I knew what they wanted and that was the player I was. It was really easy for me to slot into that wonderful club.’

Ex-Pompey player Sam Sodje is currently head of technical/youth development in Delta State, Nigeria, splitting his time between living in Dartford, Kent

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Earlier in his career, Sodje had turned down both Pompey and Southampton during the 2006 January transfer window.

At the time impressing for League One high-fliers Brentford, he remained for their promotion push before leaving for Reading that summer in a £350,000 deal.

Then, seven years later, as a free agent he was approached by Pompey physio Steve Allen.

The pair had worked together at Charlton, where Sodje had spent the 2007-08 season on loan from Reading.

And in January 2013, the defender made Fratton Park his home.

Sodje added: ‘At a big club like Pompey, the pressure was there, which I wanted. It was a good test for me personally.

‘I had the chance to go to Colchester, but chose Pompey because Steve Allen had previously managed my knee. I needed someone who would look after it.

‘I had no cartilage in my right knee, it was bone on bone, so couldn’t train every day.

‘It needed to be managed and I was looking for a manager or a physio who knew me and could help me play more games. Steve was the perfect guy for that time.

‘Even though I loved training sessions, I just couldn’t do it, so they allowed me to rest and play games – and it worked for both sides.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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