Twenty years on from the 'hat-trick for nothing' - remembering one of the greatest performances in a Portsmouth shirt

It was one of the finest individual Pompey performances of the 21st century – arguably ever, in fact.

By Sam Cox
Friday, 4th February 2022, 6:00 pm
Updated Friday, 4th February 2022, 8:11 pm

Now, 20 years on, memories of Robert Prosinecki’s display in the 4-4 draw with Barnsley have the Fratton faithful purring again.

This week marks two decades since the iconic Croatian’s spellbinding performance saw the mercurial maestro terrorise the Tykes.

But despite his peerless performance, the display didn’t reap the reward it warranted as Barnsley came back to earn a draw – and Pompey’s players the contempt of one of the finest to wear royal blue.

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Prosinecki famously branded his effort a ‘hat-trick for nothing’, as he stormed past the press in the game’s aftermath.

Those who looked on recall the sense of embarrassment they felt, as the rest of Pompey’s players couldn’t reward the former Barcelona and Real Madrid man’s display – with two goals conceded in the final six minutes.

Prosinecki opened the scoring in the third minute, with a nonchalantly taken penalty he caressed into the bottom corner after Courtney Pitt had been fouled.

However, the joy was short-lived as Chris Lumsdon equalised 11 minutes later, before Linvoy Primus restored the lead on the cusp of half-time.

Robert Prosinecki

Again Graham Rix’s side were pegged back early in the second half, before Prosinecki grabbed proceedings by the scruff of the neck in never-to-be-forgotten fashion.

Jaws dropped at the sight of his second of the afternoon, as he picked himself from the floor to roll the ball onto his left foot, and fire into the bottom corner in front of the Fratton End.

And if that didn’t impress, he had those in attendance in awe with an exquisitely taken free-kick moments later.

Prosinecki picked his spot and effortlessly curled the ball into the top corner – leaving Kevin Miller routed to the spot.

Robert Prosinecki secured his Pompey hat-trick with a sublime free-kick against Barnsley. Picture: Craig Prentis /Allsport

But those around him on the pitch failed to give his brilliance the result it deserved, with a six-minute capitulation following Primus’ red card – which saw Barnsley level the score.

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Perhaps the eight-goal thriller summed up Prosinecki’s time in royal blue, as he carried those around him only to be let down – in a season where Pompey finished 17th in the Division One table.

Still those who watched Prosinecki in action that day and kiss the star and crescent in celebration at his achievements, will never forget what they witnessed.

And it heartening to hear the genius himself talk of his time at Fratton Park so fondly.

Prosinecki said in 2015’s Played up Pompey: ‘Pompey still has a place in my heart, I had a very happy year, I was made to feel very welcome by the fans, the players and all the staff, they looked after me and I appreciated that.

‘Even now I look out for their results, I can promise the wonderful fans I have not forgotten about you.’

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