Lee Trundle, animal yoga and the mentality driving Portsmouth to success under John Mousinho

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The Pompey boss has lifted the lid on the surreal tale from his time at Preston North End, involving his old manager and the former Swansea City and Bristol City cult hero.

You may not have heard of animal yoga - but John Mousinho knows all about it.

And the Pompey head coach has revealed how the mythical exercise devised by his former boss, Graham Westley, is resonating through his side’s bid to reach the Championship.

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Mousinho was at the centre of the bizarre tale of how maverick striker Lee Trundle came to be impersonating an elephant in the then Preston manager’s office, ahead of a move to Deepdale in 2012.

Westley, who made his name when he guided Stevenage to success when the Pompey boss was there as a player, recently told the hysterical story of how he tricked Trundle into trying some very leftfield yoga poses in talks.

It was all part of a test to see if the Scouser had the humility and self-deprecating attitude the outspoken manager sought in his players.

Mousinho revealed it’s an outlook he’s brought into the Pompey dressing room since his January arrival.

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‘The story is 100 per cent true!' Mousinho said, as he confirmed he watched the surreal event unfold. 

‘He (Westley) told the story remarkably well. It was a really interesting moment - and incredibly funny.

‘I told that story a couple of years ago - and I don’t think anyone believed me.

‘Lee was a brilliant sport. He bought into it and when he started doing his elephant noises he just started laughing and called it a day.

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'That was enough though and we burst out laughing, but it’s all true.

‘I also think what Graham said was true.

‘A part of it was we want to have players who take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously.

‘We have that here now and try to do that.

‘I try not to take myself too seriously, but when it gets down to football it is very serious.

‘We know how important winning games and performing is, but if you can’t have a bit of fun along the way, then you’re lost.’

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Mousinho was taken to Stevenage by Westley in 2010 and saw first hand the success of the outspoken and eccentric manager’s approach, as he guided the underdogs to back-to-back promotions and a place in League One.

The 37-year-old then followed Westley to Preston in the Championship, and has told how his methods left an indelible imprint on him and informed his own approach to management.

Mousinho added: ‘There were parts of my game technically that Graham really helped with, but the biggest part of my game he helped with was the mentality he instilled upon everyone.

‘If you’re ever going to have success with a club like Stevenage was back then (you need a strong mentality), it was a very new Football League club and the first season we’d ever had in the league.

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‘To then get promoted, finish sixth the season after (in League One) and lose to Sheffield United in the play-offs, a lot it was about mentality and how you approach games. So there’s huge amount to say for that.

‘We had a very, very strong group and the demand he put on me individually was really interesting.

‘I enjoyed it and I enjoyed the relationship I had with him - I do take a hell of a lot from my time with him there.’

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