Ditched at the age of 11 when Paul Hart was in charge of the academy, John Swift found himself playing Sunday league football with his friends.
It was a mistake which was to prove costly a few years later when the Gosport lad chose to move to Chelsea, as the Blues realised the error of their ways.
The 26-year-old, who grew up in Forton and attended Brune Park Community College, has sealed a three-year deal with the Baggies with Steve Bruce landing one of his prime summer targets.
Swift’s family still live in the family and will be celebrating the switch for a player seen as one of the brightest talents in the EFL.
The midfielder bagged 11 goals as the Royals narrowly avoided relegation this term.
Swift maintains a strong association with the area he grew up in and has told of his affinity with Gosport and Pompey.
Speaking to The News in 2017 after Pompey had won the League Two title, he said: ‘I’ve watched them a few times and they have some great players.
'Being such a big team it’s amazing seeing how there’s so many fans at games. There’s so many people in Fratton Park.
‘I signed (for Pompey) when I was 10 and was released at 11 when Paul Hart was in charge of the Academy.
'I got released and ended up playing Sunday league until I was 13 or 14.
‘Then I ended up having a three-day trial at Chelsea. Pompey came back in for me then so I got to choose.
‘I lived in Forton growing up. My mum lives near the Morrisons now and my sister’s there. My dad’s still around this way, too.
‘I’ve still got loads of mates in Gosport, too. It’s all nice and close as well - Reading’s not too far, so I’m about quite a bit still.'
Bruce was delighted to complete the capture of Swift.
He told West Brom’s official site: ‘I am delighted we have been able to secure a player of John’s quality so early in the summer.
‘As a club we identified the need for a creative, attacking player in our midfield, and from our earliest conversations, John has been our first choice.
‘He has always impressed me as a player, and I am now excited to have him at our disposal next season.’