Why former Portsmouth Academy youngster Josh Flint has no regrets after Fratton Park axe

Former Pompey academy player Josh Flint left Fratton Park in 2020 with his footballing dreams shattered.

By Sean Kirk
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 4:54 am

After 11 years with the club, he departed as an inexperienced 19-year-old with only two first-team appearances to his name and a career outside the professional ranks lying in wait for him.

Fast forward to the present day via a short stint at non-league Bognor, however, and the Waterlooville ace is celebrating promotion to the Eredivisie with FC Volendam, who finished second in the Eerste divisie behind winners FC Emmen.

There, the 21-year-old – who has also been converted into a centre-back from his days as a Blues youngster operating in midfield – will find himself coming up against the likes of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord in the Dutch top flight.

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That’s a huge leap from featuring against the likes of Norwich under-21s and Oxford in the Papa John’s Trophy.

But just like his position on the pitch, Flint has changed and knows he now has the game and attributes to cope with the tests that lie ahead.

‘I think I've improved leaps and bounds,’ he said.

‘I think at Pompey I was still a boy and I feel now I've become a man physically and mentally.

Former Pompey youngster Josh Flint will be playing in the Eredivisie with FC Volendam next season.

‘The attention to detail in the football here has definitely caused the biggest improvement I've seen in my game.’

This season Flint has featured 15 times in the league for Volendam – the majority of which arrived since mid-December.

Since then, he’s established himself as a regular in Wim Jonk’s side, scoring his first league goal for the club in the recent 2-1 win at Den Bosch that secured promotion.

That sparked jubilant scenes among the away fans, although Flint suggested his own celebrations may need some fine-tuning.

‘It was an incredible moment to score my first goal in such an important game,’ he said.

‘The celebration needs a bit of work. I wasn't sure what to do so I definitely need to work on that.’

For the 21-year-old, the adaptation to senior football was challenging, but after initially featuring for Volendam’s second team, the former Fratton Park season-ticket holder believes that the move was crucial.

He said: ‘It was difficult at first but I found that it was a win-win to play at a great club that was fighting for promotion.

‘If you want to be a footballer you have to make sacrifices, and moving away at 19 was a little one in the grand scheme of things.’

Flint is one of a number of young English players currently plying their trade abroad, following the likes of Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) and current Eredivisie star Noni Madueke (PSV) in leaving England to further their prospects.

And moving to a new country is one that Flint would encourage other aspiring footballers to do.

‘Yes, for sure, there are so many benefits to moving abroad to play – different cultures, different languages and you get to meet people from all over the world,’ he said.

Speaking of English players abroad, Flint isn’t the only Englishman currently on Volendam’s books, with three others currently with the club – including another former Pompey prospect.

Leon Maloney surprised many of the Fratton faithful by leaving the Blues to move to Volendam in January 2020.

And Flint credited his long-time friend and the rest of the team for helping him adapt to a new way of life.

He added: ‘Leon helped me a lot in the beginning, but the boys here are really great and all speak English, so they helped me integrate with no problems.

‘But it is very nice to have one of your childhood mates playing at the same club for sure.’

Looking forward to the prospect of playing against the likes of Ajax & Co next season, Flint is excited for what next term will bring.

But he’s most looking forward to testing himself against another side in the Dutch top flight, largely thanks to a someone else with Pompey conections.

He revealed: ‘There are obviously the big clubs – Ajax, PSV and Feyernoord – but, personally, I am looking forward to playing Vitesse as I took a keen interest in them because of Mason Mount’s loan spell when he played there, being a Portsmouth boy as well.’

That being said, Flint doesn’t appear concerned with the task ahead of him, and instead is looking forward to the test being presented to him.

‘As a footballer you want to play in the biggest games against the biggest teams so of course I'm so excited for it, and I can't wait for next season,’ he concluded.